Is there a relationship between ultrasound scanning ability (sonography) and visuospatial perception or psychomotor ability?

Elizabeth Chapman, Suzanne Hagen, Helen Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Competent sonography is thought to include a unique combination of skills not yet fully defined. This presents challenges when recruiting the correct people for training. Skills are thought to include visuospatial perception and psychomotor skills, but little is known about the relationship between these aptitudes and scanning ability. This feasibility study explored such relationships, to identify evaluation techniques which may improve selection and recruitment.

A sample of 30 experienced ultrasound practitioners and 30 trainees at commencement and on completion of training were administered eight tests.

No significant relationships between experienced practitioners’ or trainees’ visuospatial abilities or psychomotor abilities and scanning abilities were found. Results demonstrated that two of the visuospatial perception tests were not influenced by training and therefore, may be measuring the innate skills of ultrasound practitioners. As ultrasound practitioners had not performed any of the tests previously, ranges of scores for each of the eight tests were established for this group. This included measures for psychomotor skills which added to the current body of knowledge for sonography.

Although no significant correlations were found between participants’ visuospatial perception or psychomotor abilities and scanning ability, performance on the Obstetric Structured Assessment Test (combining all the skills required) pre-training gave the best indication of post-training scanning performance. The Obstetric Structured Assessment Test may prove a useful tool for initial assessment of potential trainees but abilities will require further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-221
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Ultrasound practice
  • psychomotor ability
  • sonography
  • visuospatial perception


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