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Crit Ultrasound J. 2012 Mar 6;4(1):2. doi: 10.1186/2036-7902-4-2.

Medical students benefit from the use of ultrasound when learning peripheral IV techniques.

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Southside Regional Medical Center, 200 Medical Park Blvd,, Petersburg, VA, 23805, USA.



Recent studies support high success rates after a short learning period of ultrasound IV technique, and increased patient and provider satisfaction when using ultrasound as an adjunct to peripheral IV placement. No study to date has addressed the efficacy for instructing ultrasound-naive providers. We studied the introduction of ultrasound to the teaching technique of peripheral IV insertion on first- and second-year medical students.


This was a prospective, randomized, and controlled trial. A total of 69 medical students were randomly assigned to the control group with a classic, landmark-based approach (n = 36) or the real-time ultrasound-guided group (n = 33). Both groups observed a 20-min tutorial on IV placement using both techniques and then attempted vein cannulation. Students were given a survey to report their results and observations by a 10-cm visual analog scale. The survey response rate was 100%.


In the two groups, 73.9% stated that they attempted an IV previously, and 63.7% of students had used an ultrasound machine prior to the study. None had used ultrasound for IV access prior to our session. The average number of attempts at cannulation was 1.42 in either group. There was no difference between the control and ultrasound groups in terms of number of attempts (p = 0.31). In both groups, 66.7% of learners were able to cannulate in one attempt, 21.7% in two attempts, and 11.6% in three attempts. The study group commented that they felt they gained more knowledge from the experience (p < 0.005) and that it was easier with ultrasound guidance (p < 0.005).


Medical students feel they learn more when using ultrasound after a 20-min tutorial to place IVs and cannulation of the vein feels easier. Success rates are comparable between the traditional and ultrasound teaching approaches.

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