Use of ultrasound in the setting of a sexual health clinic

Use of ultrasound in the setting of a sexual health clinic

A. Brockmeyer, and A. Webb

Abacus Clinics, Liverpool, UK

Background Ultrasound scans (USS) are frequently performed in hospital or outpatient

gynaecology in the UK. So far, the use of USS in the community setting of sexual

and reproductive health has not been established. Reasons for this are the

uncertainty of indications, unavailability of ultrasound scanners, lack of

experienced sonographers and the need to maintain clinical governance. The

service in Liverpool has an ultrasound scanner at its main clinic, Central

Abacus (CA). The clinical protocols identify two indications for the use of USS:

determination of gestation prior to referral for abortion where gestation is

uncertain and location of an IUD/IUS. Objectives

  1. To analyse indications for

    USS performed at CA and to determine if they adhere to those in the clinical


  2. To establish the role of USS in the community setting of sexual

    & reproductive health and how this role could be extended further. 


Retrospective audit. Computerised records were analysed to determine the number

of USS performed at CA. Client’s records were reviewed to find out the

indications for USS and the outcomes. These were then compared with the

standards set in the clinical protocols.

Results The computer identified 71

women who had an USS between 1/1/04 and 31/0/04. The records of 60 women were

reviewed in detail. The review of these notes revealed that 56 women had an USS

at CA. Six doctors performed between 2 and 12 USS in three months. 66% of women

had an USS to check gestation prior to referral for abortion; 27% for location

of an IUD. In most cases of other indications this was related to IUD fittings

or complications during pregnancy. In about 40% of women having an USS helped to

decide about the referral to the appropriate abortion provider. As a result of

the audit, the wording of the USS standards has been refined.

Conclusions USS

can be useful in the setting of a sexual health clinic. To ensure clinical

governance indications must be clearly defined due to relatively small numbers

of USS and variable scanning experience. The use of USS could be extended if

more clinicians were available for scanning and if there was standardised USS

training available.

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