Current Use and Barriers to Point-of-Care Ultrasound in Rheumatology: A National Survey of VA Medical Centers

Ayesha Iqbal, Madiha Ahmad, Kevin J. Murray, Jison Sim, Terry J.S. Lund, Anthony J. Andrade, Ariadna Perez-Sanchez, Michael J. Mader, Elizabeth K. Haro, Jason P. Williams, Robert Nathanson, Nilam J. Soni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) can assist rheumatologists in monitoring disease activity, establishing diagnoses, and guiding procedural interventions. POCUS use has been increasing, but little is known about current use and barriers among rheumatologists. The purpose of this study was to characterize current POCUS use, training needs, and barriers to use among rheumatologists in practice. Methods: A prospective observational study of all Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers was conducted using a web-based survey sent to all chiefs of staff and rheumatology chiefs about current POCUS use, training needs, barriers, and policies. Results: All chiefs of staff (n = 130) and rheumatology chiefs at VA medical centers (n = 95) were surveyed with 100% and 84% response rates, respectively. The most common diagnostic POCUS applications were evaluation of synovitis, joint effusion, tendinopathies, bursitis, and rotator cuff. The most common procedural applications were arthrocentesis and joint, bursa, and tendon injection. Most rheumatology chiefs (69%) expressed interest in training for their group. The most common barriers to POCUS use were lack of trained providers (68%), funding for training (54%), training opportunities (38%), funding for travel (38%), and ultrasound equipment (31%). Lack of POCUS infrastructure was common, and few facilities had POCUS policies (20%), image archiving (25%), or quality assurance processes (6%). Conclusion: Currently, half of rheumatology groups use diagnostic and procedural ultrasound applications. Most rheumatology groups desire training, and lack of training and equipment were the most common barriers to ultrasound use. Deliberate investment is needed in ultrasound training and infrastructure for systematic adoption of POCUS in rheumatology. Graphical Abstract available for this article. Trial Registration: NCT03296280. Graphical Abstract: (Figure presented.)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-867
Number of pages13
JournalRheumatology and Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Barriers
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound
  • Point of care ultrasound
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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