Improving the Performance Time and Accuracy of Ultrasound-Guided Interventions: A Randomized Controlled Double-Blind Trial of the Line-of-Sight Approach and the "APPLES" Mnemonic

J Ultrasound Med. 2018 Dec;37(12):2909-2914. doi: 10.1002/jum.14653. Epub 2018 Apr 17.


Objectives: To determine whether the line-of-sight approach improved the performance time and accuracy of ultrasound (US)-guided needle placement targeting the subdeltoid bursa in a cadaver among novice operators compared to the side approach. A secondary objective was to determine whether participants thought the APPLES (angle, position, perpendicular, line up, entry, sweep) mnemonic was a helpful guide for performing the procedure.

Methods: Medical students and residents were randomized into either a line-of-sight or side approach group and then crossed over to the other group. The procedure time was determined by 2 blinded reviewers. A survey was administered to determine which method participants preferred and whether they thought the APPLES mnemonic was helpful. A paired t test was used to compare the performance time, and the McNemar test was used to compare the accuracy of the methods.

Results: Among the 110 participants, the performance time with the line-of-sight approach (mean, 14.4 seconds; SD, 9.95 seconds) was significantly decreased compared to the side approach (mean, 18.6 seconds; SD, 10.1 seconds; P = .00029). Additionally, participants who only hit the target using one method were more likely to hit the target in 30 seconds using the line-of-sight approach (P = .035). In total, 72.7% of participants preferred the line-of-sight approach over the side approach, and 88.2% of participants thought that APPLES mnemonic was useful.

Conclusions: This study highlights the finding that positioning of the operator is important in performing US-guided interventions, and the line-of-sight approach may improve the performance time and accuracy among novice operators. Furthermore, the APPLES mnemonic serves as a useful educational tool for teaching US-guided interventional procedures.

Keywords: education; interventional procedures; line-of-sight approach; novice operator; ultrasound; ultrasound-guided interventional procedures.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bursa, Synovial / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cadaver
  • Catheterization / methods*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*