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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Feasibility and accuracy of point-of-care pocket-size ultrasonography performed by medical students

Garrett Newton Andersen13*, Annja Viset4, Ole Christian Mjølstad12, Øyvind Salvesen5, Håvard Dalen13 and Bjørn Olav Haugen12

Author Affiliations

1 MI Lab and Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Postboks 8905, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

2 Clinic of Cardiology, St. Olav Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

3 Levanger Hospital, Nord-Trøndelag Health Trust, 7600 Levanger, Norway

4 Clinic of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, St. Olav Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

5 Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

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BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:156  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-156

Published: 28 July 2014



Point-of-care ultrasound performed by clinicians is a useful supplement in the treatment and assessment of patients. We aimed to investigate whether medical students with minimal training were able to successfully acquire and interpret ultrasound images using a pocket-size imaging device (PSID) as a supplement to their clinical practice.


Thirty 5th year (of six) medical students volunteered to participate. They were each given a personal PSID device to use as a supplement to their physical examination during their allocated hospital terms. Prior to clinical placement the students were given three evenings of hands-on training with PSID by a board certified radiologist/cardiologist, including three short lectures (<20 min). The students were shown basic ultrasound techniques and taught to assess for basic, clinically relevant pathology. They were specifically instructed to assess for the presence or absence of reduced left ventricular function (assessed as mitral annular excursion < 10 mm), pericardial effusion, pleural effusion, lung comets, hydronephrosis, bladder distension, gallstones, abdominal free-fluid, cholecystitis, and estimate the diameter of abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava.


A total of 211 patients were examined creating 1151 ultrasound recordings. Acceptable organ presentation was 73.8% (95% CI 63.1-82.6) for cardiovascular and 88.4% (95% CI: 80.6-93.6) for radiological structures. Diagnostic accuracy was 93.5% (95% CI: 89.0-96.2) and 93.2% (95% CI: 87.4-96.5) respectively.


Medical students with minimal training were able to use PSID as a supplement to standard physical examination and successfully acquire acceptable relevant organ recordings for presentation and correctly interpret these with great accuracy.

Echocardiography; Point-of-care ultrasound; Bedside; Medical student; Hand-held