Point of care ultrasound (POCUS) in Canadian neonatal intensive care units (NICUs): where are we?

J Ultrasound. 2019 Jun;22(2):201-206. doi: 10.1007/s40477-019-00383-4. Epub 2019 May 9.


Objectives: Despite increased evidence that point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has the potential to improve patient care in many clinical areas, the extent of use and training in POCUS in Canadian neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) has not been described in the literature. In this study, we aimed to explore the extent to which POCUS is being used and the need for a formal curriculum with defined POCUS competencies in the field of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine (NPM).

Methods: We sent a cross-sectional electronic survey to all NPM program directors and fellows in Canada. All 13 Canadian NPM programs were invited to participate. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis.

Results: The response rate was 69% (n = 9) from program directors (PDs) and 29% (n = 25) from NPM fellows. Most respondents indicated regular use of POCUS in clinical practice and ready access to a portable ultrasound machine. The most common use for POCUS was targeted assessment of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). Only six PDs reported that POCUS skills are taught to trainees in their centers and only two PDs reported that a structured program existed. Barriers to POCUS structured training include a lack of trained personnel as well as insufficient time in the busy NPM curriculum.

Conclusion: POCUS is widely used in Canadian NICUs. However, a formal curriculum and assessment of competencies in this area of neonatal clinical care are lacking.

Keywords: Curriculum; Neonatal; POCUS.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Neonatologists / education
  • Neonatology / education
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Ultrasonography*