Accuracy of Surgeon-Performed Ultrasound in Detecting Gallstones: A Validation Study

World J Surg. 2016 Jul;40(7):1688-94. doi: 10.1007/s00268-016-3468-3.


Background: Symptomatic gallstone disease is a common diagnosis in patients with abdominal pain. Ultrasound is considered the gold standard method to identify gallstones. Today the examination may be performed bedside by the treating clinician. Bedside ultrasound could provide a safe and time-saving diagnostic resource for surgeons evaluating patients with suspected symptomatic gallstones; however, large validation studies of the accuracy and reliability are lacking. The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the accuracy of surgeon-performed ultrasound for the detection of gallstones.

Methods: Between October 2011 and November 2012, 179 adult patients, with an acute or elective referral for an abdominal ultrasound examination, were examined with a right upper quadrant ultrasound scan by a radiologist as well as a surgeon. The surgeons had undergone a four-week-long ultrasound education before participating in the study. Ultrasound findings of the surgeon were compared to those of the radiologist, using radiologist-performed ultrasound as reference standard.

Results: Surgeon-performed ultrasound agreed with radiologist findings in 169 of 179 patients regarding the detection of gallstones, providing an accuracy of 94 %. The sensitivity was 88 % (67/76), specificity 99 % (102/103), positive predictive value 99 % (67/68), and negative predictive value 92 % (102/111). Agreement between the diagnosis set by the radiologists and the surgeons was high: Cohen's Kappa coefficient = 0.88.

Conclusions: Ultrasound-trained surgeons may accurately diagnose gallstones using ultrasound and reach a high level of agreement with radiologists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Gallstones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surgeons*
  • Ultrasonography*
  • Young Adult