A urologic stethoscope? Urologist performed sonography using a pocket-size ultrasound device in the point-of-care setting

Int Urol Nephrol. 2017 Sep;49(9):1513-1518. doi: 10.1007/s11255-017-1641-8. Epub 2017 Jun 22.


Purpose: Ultrasound is commonly used in urology. Technical advances with reduced size and cost led to diffusion of small ultrasound devices to many clinical settings. Even so, most ultrasound studies are performed by non-urologists. We aimed to evaluate the utility of a pocket-size ultrasound device (Vscan™ GE Healthcare) and the quality of urologist performed study.

Methods: Three consecutive studies were performed: (1) a urologist using the pocket ultrasound, (2) a sonographist using the pocket ultrasound, and (3) a sonographist using a standard ultrasound device. Thirty-six patients were evaluated with a basic urologic ultrasound study. An excepted deviation between studies was preset for numeric parameters and t test performed. Ordinal parameters were analyzed using Cohen's kappa coefficient.

Results: Kidney length, renal pelvis length, renal cyst diameter, post-void residual and prostate volume (transabdominal) differences were found to be insignificant when comparing a urologist pocket ultrasound study to a sonographist standard ultrasound study (P = 0.15; P = 0.21; P = 0.81; P = 0.32; P = 0.07, respectively). Hydronpehrosis evaluation (none, mild, moderate and severe) and the presence of ureteral jet signs conferred a high inter-observer agreement when comparing the above studies using the Cohen's kappa coefficient (K = 0.63; K = 0.62, respectively).

Conclusions: Urologist performed pocket ultrasound study is valid in evaluating the upper and lower urinary tract and is practical in many clinical scenarios. The urologic stethoscope is now becoming a reality within reach.

Keywords: Point-of-care ultrasound scanning (POCUS); Urinary tract evaluation; Urologic stethoscope; Urologist performed ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydronephrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Kidney Pelvis / diagnostic imaging
  • Kidney Pelvis / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Organ Size
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostate / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Ultrasonography / instrumentation*
  • Urology / instrumentation*
  • Young Adult