Point-of-care ultrasonography performed by frontline intensivists offers the possibility of reducing the use of traditional imaging in the medical ICU (MICU). We compared the use of traditional radiographic studies between two MICUs: one where point-of-care ultrasonography is used as a primary imaging modality, the other where it is used only for procedure guidance.
This study was a retrospective 3-month chart review comparing the use of chest radiographs, CT scans (chest and abdomen/pelvis), transthoracic echocardiography performed by the cardiology service, and DVT ultrasonography studies performed by the radiology service between two MICUs of similar size and acuity and staffing levels.
Total number of admissions, patient demographics, and disease acuity were similar between MICUs. Comparing the non-point-of-care ultrasonography MICU with the point-of-care ultrasonography MICU, there were 3.75 ± 4.6 vs 0.82 ± 1.85 (P < .0001) chest radiographs per patient, 0.10 ± 0.31 vs 0.04 ± 0.20 (P = .0007) chest CT scans per patient, 0.17 ± 0.44 vs 0.05 ± 0.24 (P < .0001) abdomen/pelvis CT scans per patient, 0.20 ± 0.47 vs 0.02 ± 0.14 (P < .0001) radiology service-performed DVT studies per patient, and 0.18 ± 0.40 vs 0.07 ± 0.26 (P < .0001) cardiology service-performed transthoracic echocardiography studies per patient, respectively.
The use of point-of-care ultrasonography in an MICU is associated with a significant reduction in the number of imaging studies performed by the radiology and cardiology services.