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J Ultrasound Med. 2008 Dec;27(12):1735-43.

Utility of portable ultrasound in a community in Ghana.

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  • 1Department of Primary and Ambulatory Care, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



In many developing countries, access to medical imaging is limited by availability of resources. Portable ultrasound shows great promise to meet the needs in these countries because it is transportable and relatively inexpensive, and it has a wide range of applications. As part of the Ghana Health Mission, Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana, we explored the utility of ultrasound in primary care and hospital settings during March 2004. Our objective was to evaluate the clinical utility of a portable ultrasound machine in a variety of physical conditions and multiple clinical scenarios.


Ultrasound examinations were performed at 2 primary care sites and 2 hospitals using a portable ultrasound machine with linear and curved linear phased array transducers. Most ultrasound examinations were musculoskeletal, with the remainder being obstetric, pelvic, breast, vascular, abdominal, and genitourinary examinations.


In clinic settings, musculoskeletal ultrasound represented 46% (16) of the ultrasound examinations performed, and 29% (10) of the cases were a combination of abdominal, pelvic, and genitourinary examinations. In hospital settings, abdominal, pelvic, and genitourinary ultrasound examinations combined were 56% (18), and musculoskeletal was 41% (13). Of the 67 ultrasound examinations performed, 81% (54) showed abnormal findings, 81% (54) were considered to add to the clinical diagnosis, and 40% (27) influenced medical care for the patients.


This experience shows the usefulness of portable ultrasound examinations performed by a skilled radiologist in a clinical setting in Ghana; the challenge is to address how to best incorporate ultrasound into the current practice of medical professionals in developing countries.

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