Background Ultrasonography has been recently introduced in rheumatology. Since 1996 the Spanish Society Rheumatology has developed a training program and today, 15 years later, we feel that it is time to analyze its impact in clinical practice.
Objectives To know the situation of ultrasonography in Spanish rheumatology and to sound out the opinion of Spanish rheumatologist about it.
Methods A National survey was addressed to every rheumatology units in hospitals with at least 200 beds. The questionnaire studied: a) the availability and the model of the ultrasound equipment b) the degree of training, c) the purpose and areas of ultrasound examination, d) the usefulness of the technique, and e) the relevance of ultrasonography in the training of residents.
Results 169 units of the 234 surveyed answered the questionnaire (72%). The availability of ultrasound equipment was high. In fact, 90% of the rheumatology units had ultrasound. The mean number of rheumatologist doing ultrasound in the respondent units was 1.2. Half of the units had a rheumatologist especially dedicated to performing ultrasound, in the other half there were several rheumatologists doing it. Training plans have enabled the incorporation of ultrasound to clinical practice, but there are points which could be improved and people with advanced o intermediate skill are still low, 34% of ultrasonographers. The utility in routine clinical practice was valued at 7.8 (scale 0-10), and ultrasound was integrated in taking diagnostic decisions as shows Figure 1. There is a broad consensus on the need to include ultrasonography in the official training of residents. The Health Administration is adding ultrasound to the portfolio of rheumatology specialty services.
Figure 1. Answers about use of ultrasound (%) in clinical practice.
Conclusions In just 15 years, ultrasonography has become available in 90% of rheumatology units from previous inexistence.Its use isextensive, integrated into clinical practice and linked to decision making processes. Training plans have been effective, but areas for improvement were identified, and there is a broad consensus on the need to integrate ultrasound in residents’ training program.
Disclosure of Interest E. De Miguel Grant/Research support from: The study was supported by an unrestricted grant for Abbott., J. Andreu: None Declared, E. Naredo: None Declared, I. Möller: None Declared