Ultrasound as a tool to improve your palpation skills

Increase diagnostic accuracy and patient safety, especially for smaller and/or deeper anatomical tissues!  Make use of ultrasound (US) instead of purely relying on palpation skills.

Physical examination of musculoskeletal disorders is an essential part of graduate medical education. The study of Mehata et al. (2017) highlights the relatively poor accuracy of musculoskeletal palpation skills and draws further attention to an area of much-needed improvement at the level of musculoskeletal training programs. The results showed poor accuracy rates for palpation of the medial knee joint line, patellar tendon, and posterior tibialis tendon, with the medial joint line of the knee being the worst.

US is an effective non-invasive method for providing feedback to the medical student and resident. A recent review by Finnoff et al. (2015) noted a 717% increase in studies related to the use of US for out- patient diagnostics, particularly in the field of sports medicine. Furthermore, the mean accuracy of identifying a large joint with US guidance has been shown to range from 91% to 100%, whereas the accuracy without US guidance was 64% to 81%. US can provide direct feedback regarding palpation skills, which can help improve the accuracy of musculoskeletal palpation.