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Neonatal cranial ultrasound interpretation: a clinical audit


OBJECTIVE To assess the abilities of doctors to interpret neonatal cranial ultrasound scans.

DESIGN AND SETTING High resolution scanned images of six important neonatal cranial ultrasound abnormalities were posted as a questionnaire to the 59 neonatal units in the North and South Thames regions.

RESULTS Forty two questionnaires were returned (71%). Currently 56% of those interpreting cranial ultrasound scans are neonatal registrars, 27% are consultant paediatricians or neonatologists, and 17% are radiologists. The response rate from registrars was excellent (97%), but it was poor from consultant paediatric (38%) and radiological (40%) staff. The mean accurate identification of cerebral abnormalities was only 59% (range 45–71%). Only 44% of the neonatal registrars, compared with nearly all the consultant staff, have had any formal training in cranial ultrasonography.

CONCLUSIONS The data highlight the current accuracy of neonatal cranial ultrasound scan reporting in the Greater London region and have important implications for clinical services and research studies. Doctors who are responsible for interpreting neonatal cranial ultrasound scans should have formal training and supervision, and more formal reporting would improve and maintain standards. The findings raise significant doubts about the accuracy of local interpretation of cranial ultrasound scans in multicentre research studies.

  • neonatal
  • cranial
  • ultrasound scans
  • interpretation
  • reporting

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