Main Article Content

Temporal trends in ultrasound utilisation in the radiology department of a tertiary hospital

Nwabisa Siyeka
Michelle Da Silva
Richard D. Pitcher


Background: Little is known about the combined impact of increasing ultrasound usage by clinical disciplines outside radiology and technical advances in other specialised radiological modalities on the role of ultrasound in tertiary-level radiology departments.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate temporal trends in ultrasound utilisation in a tertiary-level radiology department.
Method: An institutional review board-approved retrospective descriptive study in the radiology department of Tygerberg Hospital (TBH). The nature and number of ultrasound performed in 2013 and 2019 were retrieved from the TBH radiology information system (RIS). These were compared, expressed as a proportion of the overall annual radiology workload and stratified by location (ultrasound suite, interventional suite, mammography suite). Ultrasound suite examinations were analysed by body part and age (0–13 years; > 13 years) and interventional suite workload by procedure.
Results: The overall radiology workload decreased by 8%, reflecting the interplay between decreased plain radiography (–19%) and general fluoroscopy (–0.3%) and increased computed tomography (27%), magnetic resonance (23%) and fluoroscopically guided procedures (22%). There was a 12% increase in ultrasound utilisation. Ultrasound remained the second most common specialised imaging investigation throughout, after computed tomography. Ultrasound suite services were stable (–1%) representing a balance between decreased abdominal (–22%) and arterial (–16%) scans, and increased musculoskeletal (67%), small part (65%) and neonatal brain scans (41%). There were substantial increases in interventional (90%) and mammography suite (199%) services.
Conclusion: Ultrasound remains a key modality in the tertiary-level radiology department, with an evolving pattern of clinical applications.