OBJECTIVES: Point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS), defined as ultrasonography (US) performed and interpreted by the clinician, is increasingly performed. This study aimed to determine the frequency of and reasons why clinicians of the emergency department request cross-sectional imaging after POCUS and how often radiologists experience diagnostic (dis)agreements.
METHODS: This retrospective study included a consecutive series of 503 patients who underwent POCUS at the emergency department of a tertiary care center.
RESULTS: Downstream cross-sectional imaging was performed in 77 (15.3%) of 503 POCUS examinations. Reasons for additional cross-sectional imaging were, in order of decreasing frequency: suspicion of pathology that was not assessed with POCUS in 46 cases (59.7%), confirmation of conclusive POCUS findings in 21 cases (27.3%), inconclusive POCUS (i.e. insufficient visualization of the structure of interest to make a diagnosis, despite an attempt of the POCUS operator) in 7 cases (9.6%), a combination of inconclusive POCUS and suspicion of pathology that was not assessed with POCUS in 2 cases (2.6%), and clarification of incidental findings on POCUS in 1 case (1.3%). In the 21 cases that underwent additional cross-sectional imaging to confirm POCUS findings, POCUS agreed with additional cross-sectional imaging in 19 (90.5%) and disagreed in 2 (9.5%) cases.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of POCUS appears to not cause any considerable downstream overutilization of cross-sectional imaging. In addition, radiologists experience few diagnostic disagreements when asked to perform second opinion cross-sectional imaging. Future studies with more homogeneous datasets in terms of POCUS operators are required to confirm our results.