Is it time to include point-of-care ultrasound in general surgery training? A review to stimulate discussion
Background Point-of-care ultrasound scanning or POCUS is a focused ultrasound (US) scan, performed by non-imaging clinicians during physical examination, an invasive procedure or surgery. As this technology becomes cheaper, smaller and easier to use, its scope for use by surgeons grows, a trend that may generate a gap between use and training. Opportunities for enhanced general surgery skill sets may be reduced unless consideration is given to inclusion of POCUS in general surgery training. Aims To stimulate discussion regarding inclusion of POCUS in the general surgery curriculum; to resource this discussion with an overview of current trends and issues around POCUS; and to discuss concerns and controversies that may arise if POCUS was adopted into general surgery training. Method A literature search was performed using PUBMED, MEDLINE, Google and Google Scholar, using the terms 'ultrasound', 'point-of-care-ultrasound', 'bedside ultrasound', 'portable ultrasound' and 'hand-held ultrasound'. Literature, references and non-literature resources found were reviewed for relevance to US education in general surgery. Conclusions Increasingly, medical students are graduating with basic POCUS skills. Specialty-specific uses of POCUS are proliferating. Training and assessment resources are not keeping up, in accessibility or standardization. A learned surgical college led training and accreditation process would require aligned education in anatomy and US technology and collaboration with the specialist imaging community to ensure appropriate standards are clarified and met. Research is also required into how general surgery trainees can best achieve and maintain POCUS competence.
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