Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Teaching limited compression ultrasound to general practitioners reduces referrals of suspected DVT to a hospital: a retrospective cross-sectional study

List of Authors: Hannula Ossi, Vanninen Ritva, Rautiainen Suvi, Mattila Kalle, Hyppölä Harri

Publisher: SPRINGER

Publication year: 2021

Journal: Ultrasound Journal

Journal name in source: ULTRASOUND JOURNAL

Journal acronym: ULTRASOUND J

Volume number: 13

Issue number: 1

Number of pages: 7

ISSN: 2036-3176


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The aim of this study was to retrospectively determine whether teaching limited compression ultrasound (LCUS) to general practitioners (GP) would reduce the number of patients with a suspected lower extremity DVT referred to a hospital for ultrasound (US) examination. According to the current literature, an LCUS protocol is a safe way to diagnose or exclude lower extremity deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and a good option to radiologist-performed whole-leg ultrasound (US), especially in remote health care units where there may be a limited availability of radiological services.


Between 2015 and 2016, altogether 13 GPs working in the same primary care unit were trained in LCUS for DVT diagnostics. The number of annual referrals due to a suspected DVT from Saarikka primary care unit to the closest hospital was evaluated before and after training. The incidence of DVT was considered to be constant. Thus, the reduction of referrals was attributed to the fact that these patients were diagnosed and treated in primary health care. Incidence rate ratio of hospital referrals was calculated. As a measure of safety, all patients diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in the nearest hospital were evaluated to determine if they had undergone LCUS by a GP in primary care.


Before training in 2014, there were 60 annual referrals due to a suspected DVT; in 2017, after training, the number was reduced to 16, i.e., a 73.3% decrease. The incidence of referrals decreased from 3.21 to 0.89 per 1000 person-years. (IRR 3.58, 95% CI 2.04-6.66, p < 0.001). No patient with a pulmonary embolism diagnosis had LCUS performed previously, indicating that there were no false negatives, resulting in pulmonary embolism.


Teaching LCUS to GPs can safely reduce the number of patients with a suspected DVT referred to a hospital substantially.

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Last updated on 2022-07-10 at 14:50