Survey of ultrasound practice amongst podiatrists in the UK

Heidi J. Siddle, Aimie Patience, James Coughtrey, Jean Mooney, Martin Fox, Lindsey Cherry

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Ultrasound in podiatry practice encompasses musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging, vascular hand-held Doppler ultrasound and therapeutic ultrasound. Sonography practice is not regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), with no requirement to hold a formal qualification. The College of Podiatry does not currently define ultrasound training and competencies.

This study aimed to determine the current use of ultrasound, training received and mentorship received and/or provided by podiatrists using ultrasound.

A quantitative study utilising a cross-sectional, on-line, single-event survey was undertaken within the UK.

Completed surveys were received from 284 podiatrists; 173 (70%) use ultrasound as part of their general practice, 139 (49%) for musculoskeletal problems, 131 (46%) for vascular assessment and 39 (14%) to support their surgical practice. Almost a quarter (n¿=¿62) worked for more than one organisation; 202 (71%) were employed by the NHS and/or private sector (n¿=¿118, 41%).

Nearly all (93%) respondents report using a hand-held vascular Doppler in their daily practice; 216 (82%) to support decisions regarding treatment options, 102 (39%) to provide diagnostic reports for other health professionals, and 34 (13%) to guide nerve blocks.

Ultrasound imaging was used by 104 (37%) respondents primarily to aid clinical decision making (n¿=¿81) and guide interventions (steroid injections n¿=¿67; nerve blocks n¿=¿39). Ninety-three percent stated they use ultrasound imaging to treat their own patients, while others scan at the request of other podiatrists (n¿=¿28) or health professionals (n¿=¿18). Few use ultrasound imaging for research (n¿=¿7) or education (n¿=¿2).

Only 32 (11%) respondents (n¿=¿20 private sector) use therapeutic ultrasound to treat patients presenting with musculoskeletal complaints, namely tendon pathologies.

Few respondents (18%) had completed formal post-graduate CASE (Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education) accredited ultrasound courses.

Forty (14%) respondents receive ultrasound mentorship; the majority from fellow podiatrists (n¿=¿17) or medical colleagues (n¿=¿15). Over half (n¿=¿127) who do not have ultrasound mentorship indicated they would like a mentor predominantly for ultrasound imaging. Fifty-five (19%) report they currently provide ultrasound mentorship for others.

Understanding the scope of ultrasound practice, the training undertaken and the requirements for mentorship will underpin the development of competencies and recommendations defined by the College of Podiatry to support professional development and ensure safe practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Foot and Ankle Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2018


  • hand-held doppler ultrasound mentorship podiatrists therapeutic ultrasound training ultrasound imaging


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