Can an 8 th grade student learn point of care ultrasound?

World J Emerg Med. 2019;10(2):109-113. doi: 10.5847/wjem.j.1920-8642.2019.02.007.


Background: Point-of-care ultrasound has gained widespread use in developing countries due to decreased cost and improved telemedicine capabilities. Ultrasound training, specifically image acquisition skills, is occurring with more frequency in non-medical personnel with varying educational levels in these underdeveloped areas. This study evaluates if students without a high school education can be trained to acquire useful FAST images, and to determine if an 8th grade student can teach peers these skills.

Methods: The 8th grade students at a small middle school were divided into two groups. One group received training by a certified medical sonographer, while the other group received training by a peer 8th grade student trainer who had previously received training by the sonographer. After training, each student was independently tested by scanning the four FAST locations. A blinded ultrasound expert evaluated these images and deemed each image adequate or inadequate for clinical use.

Results: Eighty video image clips were obtained. The overall image adequacy rate was 74%. The splenorenal window had the highest rate at 95%, followed by retrovesical at 90%, hepatorenal at 75%, and subxiphoid cardiac at 35%. The adequacy rate of the sonographer-trained group was 78%, while the adequacy rate of the student-trained group was 70%. The difference in image adequacy rate between the two groups was not significant (P-value 0.459).

Conclusion: The majority of 8th graders obtained clinically adequate FAST images after minimal training. Additionally, the student-trained group performed as well as the sonographer-trained group.

Keywords: FAST; Image acquisition; Point of care ultrasound; Training.