The use of a pocket-sized ultrasound device improves physical examination: Results of an in- and outpatient cohort study

Agostino Colli, Daniele Prati, Mirella Fraquelli, Sergio Segato, Pier Paolo Vescovi, Fabrizio Colombo, Carlo Balduini, Serena Della Valle, Giovanni Casazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The performance of pocket mobile ultrasound devices (PUDs) is comparable with that of standard ultrasonography, whereas the accuracy of a physical examination is often poor requiring further tests to assess diagnostic hypotheses. Adding the use of PUD to physical examination could lead to an incremental benefit. Aim We assessed whether the use of PUD in the context of physical examination can reduce the prescription of additional tests when used by physicians in different clinical settings. Methods We conducted a cohort impact study in four hospital medical wards, one gastroenterological outpatient clinic, and 90 general practices in the same geographical area. The study involved 135 physicians who used PUD, after a short predefined training course, to examine 1962 consecutive patients with one of 10 diagnostic hypotheses: ascites, pleural effusion, pericardial effusion, urinary retention, urinary stones, gallstones, biliary-duct dilation, splenomegaly, abdominal mass, abdominal aortic aneurysm. According to the physicians' judgment, PUD examination could rule out or in the diagnostic hypothesis or require further testing; the concordance with the final diagnosis was assessed. The main outcome was the proportion of cases in which additional tests were required after PUD. The PUD diagnostic accuracy was assessed in patients submitted to further testing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0122181
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 20 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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