The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) has long contended that medical professionals should think “ultrasound first.” In a clinical opinion published in the April issue (Volume 212, Issue 4) of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG), AIUM President Beryl Benacerraf, MD, demonstrates why ultrasound should be the first imaging test ordered for female patients with pelvic symptoms.
While both the AIUM and the American College of Radiology (appropriateness criteria) advocate ultrasound first to evaluate the female pelvis, it is evident that there are still many women undergoing CT scans, despite the inherent radiation, when patients present with pelvic pain, for example. Dr Benacerraf’s paper, “Consider ultrasound first for imaging the female pelvis,” which was written with several colleagues, including former AIUM presidents Steven Goldstein, MD, and Alfred Abuhamad, MD, uses several study findings to support the position that ultrasound should be “the first-line imaging technique for the non-pregnant female pelvis for most clinical scenarios.”
“We are trying to change how medicine is practiced and how imaging studies are ordered,” said Dr Benacerraf. “Ultrasound is less invasive, less expensive and minimizes patient radiation exposure. For these reasons, we should all think ‘ultrasound first’ whenever possible.”
Study findings included in this paper illustrate several scenarios where ultrasound has proven to be more effective than, or at least as effective as, other imaging modalities. Even with this research support, the paper concedes that more education of the medical profession needs to occur.
Dr Benacerraf’s paper supports the AIUM’s Ultrasound First initiative that was begun in 2012 and centers on the fact that ultrasound is safe, effective, and affordable. More information on this initiative can be found at www.aium.org.