Critical Care Ultrasound: A Systematic Review of International Training Competencies and Program

Crit Care Med. 2019 Mar;47(3):e256-e262. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000003626.


Objectives: Critical care ultrasonography has become established within ICUs as a diagnostic tool and to guide management strategies and practical procedures. Following an international consensus statement in 2011, various national professional societies and organizations have sought to develop and deliver training program. The aim of this review was to assess the similarities and differences among these postgraduate intensive care/critical care training program.

Data sources: A systematic review was performed in two steps. First, we searched medical databases and national societies' websites for documents meeting predefined inclusion criteria. If not found, professionals related to critical care ultrasonography were contacted.

Data extraction: Data were extracted independently by two authors. Analyses were conducted on general training requirements as well as specific competencies defined in the documents.

Data synthesis: Eight national program from seven countries were identified from a total of 25 countries; all identified program have defined competencies for core critical care ultrasonography. Although there were common themes across these program, significant variations in training requirements and assessments existed, for example, number of scans required for echocardiography training ranged from 10 to 100. Furthermore, the specifics of each ultrasound module varied between program.

Conclusions: Despite widespread and increasing use of ultrasound in ICUs, the majority of countries lacked a formal training program and clearly defined competencies. Even among the countries where these are available, there remains variability. There is a need to better define the competencies required in core critical care ultrasonography and standardize the assessment process.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Critical Care* / methods
  • Critical Care* / standards
  • Curriculum / standards
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / standards
  • Ultrasonography* / standards