HumanInsight Synchronous tele-ultrasonography is helpful for a naive operator to perform high-quality thyroid ultrasound examinations
Ultrasonography. 2022 Mar 5. doi: 10.14366/usg.21204. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: This study investigated the value of synchronous tele-ultrasonography (TUS) for naive operators in thyroid ultrasonography (US) examinations.
METHODS: Ninety-seven patients were included in this prospective, parallel-controlled trial. Thyroid scanning and diagnosis were completed by resident A independently, resident B with guidance from a US expert through synchronous TUS, and an on-site US expert. The on-site expert's findings constituted the reference standard. Two other off-site US experts analyzed all data in a blind manner. Inter-operator consistency between the two residents and the on-site US expert for thyroid size measurements, nodule measurements, nodule features, American College of Radiology (ACR) Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System (TI-RADS) categories, and image quality was compared. Two questionnaires were completed to evaluate the clinical benefit.
RESULTS: Resident B detected more nodules consistent with the on-site expert than resident A did (89.4% vs. 56.5%, P<0.001). Resident B achieved excellent consistency with the on-site expert in terms of ACR TI-RADS categories, nodule composition, shape, echogenic foci, and vascularity (all intra-class correlation coefficients [ICCs] >0.75), while resident A achieved lower consistency in ACR TI-RADS categories, composition, echogenicity, margin, echogenic foci, and vascularity (all ICCs 0.40-0.75). Residents A and B had excellent consistency in target nodule measurements (all ICCs >0.75). Resident B achieved better performance than resident A for gray values, time gain compensation, depth, color Doppler adjustment, and the visibility of key information (all P<0.05). Furthermore, 61.9% (60/97) of patients accepted synchronous TUS, and 59.8% (58/97) patients were willing to pay for it.
CONCLUSION: Synchronous TUS can help inexperienced residents achieve comparable thyroid diagnostic capability to a US expert.
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