Evaluation of Office Ultrasound Usage among Australian and New Zealand Breast Surgeons
Surgeon performed ultrasound (US) is being increasingly embraced by breast surgeons worldwide as an integral part of patient assessment. The extent of its application within Australia and New Zealand is not well documented. The present study aimed to evaluate its current usage patterns and to determine suitable future training models.
An online survey was sent to members of Breast Surgeons of Australia and New Zealand (BreastSurgANZ) between July and September 2010, with emphases on practice demographics, access to US equipment, usage, biopsy patterns, and training.
Of the 126 surveys sent, 59 were returned. The majority of respondents were metropolitan based (64 %), worked in both public and private sectors (71 %), and practiced endocrine or general surgery (85 %), as well as breast surgery. A preponderance of surgeons had access to equipment (63 %), performed at least 1 US monthly (63 %), but did not perform regular guided biopsies. Rural practice did not affect access or usage patterns. Most respondents underwent structured US training (73 %), which was associated with greater US and biopsy usage, biopsy complexity, intraoperative applications, and cross discipline applications (p < 0.03). Most surgeons favored a structured training program for future trainees (83 %).
The majority of breast surgeons from Australia and New Zealand have adopted office US to varying degrees. Geographic variation did not lead to access inequity and variation in scanning patterns. Formal US training may result in a wider scope of clinical applications by increasing operator confidence and is the preferred model within a specialist breast surgical curriculum.
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