Use of ultrasonography in the primary health care setting

Laerum F, Eik-Nes S, Fonnebo V, Heilo A, Johnsen R, Stray-Pedersen B, Thorsen E, Odegaard S, Asheim G, Morland B
Record ID 32002000084
Authors' objectives:

To assess the available evidence on the use of ultrasonography in the primary health care settting.

Authors' recommendations: - Ultrasound has in recent years become much more available. High quality apparatus are becoming cheaper and smaller which means that diagnostic ultrasound can be more widely used in primary health care. - Ultrasound has the potential of becoming an integrated support function during the clinical patient examination. However, the report shows that there is very limited documentation about the diagnostic validity and clinical benefit from using diagnostic ultrasound in primary health care. - There is an abundance of literature regarding the use of diagnostic ultrasound in specialist health services (incl. hospitals), but the literature lacks documentation on diagnostic and therapeutic consequences compared to alternatives. The transfer value is uncertain regarding experiences from the specialist health services to the primary health care service. - The present study raises questions about the use of diagnostic ultrasound in primary health care regarding: - use of ultrasound in a population where the prevalence of a disease is low - problems concerning false positive and false negative findings related to ultrasound examinations - consequences experienced by the specialist health services (due to an increase in referrals because of false positive ultrasound examinations and uncertain results, or fewer referrals) - The result of the examination depends very much on the education and experience of the examiner - If general practitioners are to use ultrasound in their practice, it is essential to look into: - basic medical education - further education in general medical practice - certification procedures (accreditation) and documented continued learning (re-certification) - The use of ultrasound in primary health care services will entail increased costs, depending on the number of general practitioners who use the method. The cost-effectiveness is not known. - There is a need for clinical studies based on general practice which can say something about the diagnostic value and clinical effect (including the cost-effectiveness) of ultrasonography use.
Authors' methods: Systematic review
Project Status: Completed
URL for project:
Year Published: 2001
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: Norway
MeSH Terms
  • Primary Health Care
  • Ultrasonography
Organisation Name: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Contact Address: Universitetsgata 2, Postbox 7004 St. Olavs plass, NO-0310 Oslo NORWAY. Tel: +47 23 25 50 00; Fax: +47 23 25 50 10;
Contact Name:,
Contact Email:,
Copyright: The Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.