Utility and feasibility of musculoskeletal ultrasonography (MSK US) in rheumatology practice in Canada: needs assessment.
Surveys and Questionnaires
The utility of musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSK US) is being extensively explored and evaluated amongst European rheumatologists. However, utilization of MSK US by rheumatologists in Canada is much less common. This study aimed to evaluate the current use of MSK US in Canadian rheumatology practice, to determine beliefs and attitudes towards MSK US, and to determine factors that may encourage or limit its use. A 13-question needs assessment questionnaire was developed. All Canadian rheumatologists were invited via e-mail to participate in the survey. The overall response rate was 156/470 (33%). Fifty-one percent of participants used MSK US in their clinical practice. Lack of training appeared to be the main obstacle to its current use. Eighty-three percent believed that MSK US should be performed by rheumatologists and expressed a willingness to learn the technique. Skills offering greatest clinical utility were the assessment of inflammatory arthritis in small joints (i.e., hands (metacarpophalyngeal and proximal interphalangeal joints), wrists, feet (metatarsophalyngeal), shoulders, and ankles. Limited available time, equipment costs, and difficulties with billing were the main obstacles to MSK US utilization in the clinical setting. There is a great level of interest in learning and applying MSK US in Canadian rheumatology practice. The balance between added clinical value and lack of remuneration, equipment associated costs, and time to complete training is the major limiting factor influencing rheumatologists' willingness to take on MSK US. Training programs must be relevant to rheumatologists' needs before MSK US will be adopted into routine clinical practice in Canada.