Objective: To determine if physicians trained in ultrasound interpretation perceive a difference in image quality and usefulness between Extended Focused Assessment with Sonography ultrasound examinations performed at bedside in a hospital vs. by emergency medical technicians minimally trained in medical ultrasound on a moving ambulance and transmitted to the hospital via a novel wireless system. In particular, we sought to demonstrate that useful images could be obtained from patients in less than optimal imaging conditions; that is, while they were in transport.
Methods: Emergency medical technicians performed the examinations during transport of blunt trauma patients. Upon patient arrival at the hospital, a bedside Extended Focused Assessment with Sonography examination was performed by a physician. Both examinations were recorded and later reviewed by physicians trained in ultrasound interpretation.
Results: Data were collected on 20 blunt trauma patients over a period of 13 mo. Twenty ultrasound-trained physicians blindly compared transmitted vs. bedside images using 11 Questionnaire for User Interaction Satisfaction scales. Four paired samples t-tests were conducted to assess mean differences between ratings for ambulatory and base images.
Conclusion: Although there is a slight tendency for the average rating across all subjects and raters to be slightly higher in the base than in the ambulatory condition, none of these differences are statistically significant. These results suggest that the quality of the ambulatory images was viewed as essentially as good as the quality of the base images.