Ask any medical professional who is clued up about medical imaging and they will tell you that ultrasound is the most operator dependent scan. Although ultrasound is an excellent test for many problems and in fact the best for certain things, yet a lot comes down to the person performing the ultrasound.
Mastering the skill and art of ultrasound takes many years of rigorous training with a strong medical background to give an expert opinion of the patient’s problems.
Unfortunately, unlike other tests, Ultrasound is not regulated in the UK and anyone with access to a machine can start performing ultrasound. Many poorly trained health professionals in search of adding a new service to their portfolio (to increase revenue) attend a few short courses and consider themselves competent. Radiologists, a highly specialist medical doctor, are the only medical specialists in the UK who have a formal ultrasound training programme in general ultrasound which involves years of training, experience, assessments and exams.
The Royal College of Radiologists, the Governing body of UK radiologists, has been very vocal to the Government in bringing in regulations on who is qualified to do ultrasound due to the sheer numbers of ill-trained and rogue ultrasound practitioners. Unlike the NHS where vast majority of the ultrasounds are performed by skilled radiographers and radiologists; privately, they are commonly offered also by sports physicians, orthopaedic surgeons, physiotherapists, podiatrists, GPs and osteopaths
Poor training and lack of experience can lead to incorrect diagnosis and inappropriate treatment and management of patients. Cancers can be missed, injuries not recognised.
Radiologists live and breathe ultrasound – it’s what they do as part of their imaging expert role.
At Acorn Ultrasound, we only have highly skilled radiologists who are skilled at ultrasound. They have spent years training and obtaining experience with complex patients on a regular basis. All our consultants work in the NHS and perform those scans regularly in the NHS before performing them privately at Acorn Ultrasound.
Also, not all ultrasound machines are the same. You can buy yourself a hand-held device for £2000 or get an advanced machine which is the same price as a luxury car. The image quality and many advanced features make a huge difference – you get what you pay for. Many small clinics use low-end cheap machines as they cannot justify such an investment from a business point.
At Acorn Ultrasound, our Advanced Samsung Ultrasound machines are fantastic and used commonly in the NHS and big hospitals to meet the demanding nature of the role of accurate diagnosis.
So next time you have your ultrasound scan, find out if the person performing the scan is genuinely an expert or simply dabbling.