Send to

Choose Destination
West J Emerg Med. 2017 Oct;18(6):1061-1067. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2017.8.35606. Epub 2017 Sep 11.

Heated Ultrasound Gel and Patient Satisfaction with Bedside Ultrasound Studies: The HUGS Trial.

Author information

San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium, Department of Emergency Medicine, San Antonio, Texas.



Our goal was to determine if heated gel for emergency department (ED) bedside ultrasonography improves patient satisfaction compared to room-temperature gel.


We randomized a convenience sample of ED patients determined by their treating physician to require a bedside ultrasound (US) study to either heated gel (102.0° F) or room-temperature gel (82.3° F). Investigators performed all US examinations. We informed all subjects that the study entailed investigation into various measures to improve patient satisfaction with ED US examinations but did not inform them of our specific focus on gel temperature. Investigators wore heat-resistant gloves while performing the examinations to blind themselves to the gel temperature. After completion of the US, subjects completed a survey including the primary outcome measure of patient satisfaction as measured on a 100-mm visual analogue scale (VAS). A secondary outcome was patient perceptions of sonographer professionalism measured by an ordinal scale (1-5).


We enrolled 124 subjects; 120 completed all outcome measures. Of these, 59 underwent randomization to US studies with room-temperature gel and 61 underwent randomization to heated US gel. Patient 100-mm VAS satisfaction scores were 83.9 among patients undergoing studies with room-temperature gel versus 87.6 among subjects undergoing studies with heated gel (effect size 3.7, 95% confidence interval -1.3-8.6). There were similarly no differences between the two arms with regard to patient perceptions of sonographer professionalism.


The use of heated ultrasound gel appears to have no material impact on the satisfaction of ED patients undergoing bedside ultrasound studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: By the WestJEM article submission agreement, all authors are required to disclose all affiliations, funding sources and financial or management relationships that could be perceived as potential sources of bias. The view(s) expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of Brooke Army Medical Center, the U.S. Army Medical Department, the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government. ClinicalTrials.Gov Trial Registration Number: NCT03135379.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center