Open-access transvaginal sonography in women of reproductive age with abnormal vaginal bleeding: A descriptive study in general practice
Background: Diagnostic ultrasonography is used by GPs in approximately 10% of patients of reproductive age with abnormal vaginal bleeding. Transvaginal sonography is recommended as a first-line diagnostic instrument for assessing uterine pathology. Aim: To assess if findings resulting fromopenaccess sonography were in agreement with the GPs' working hypotheses and if these findings contributed to GPs'management. Design and setting: Prospective observational cohort study of GPs working in the health district of the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdamand their patients consulting with abnormal vaginal bleeding. Method: Data on patients' history, GPs' primary working hypotheses, and intendedmanagement were recorded. After sonography, GPs recorded their actualmanagement. Results : A total of 122 patients were included by 18 GPs fromJune 2003 to December 2004. Data from 89 patients were available for analysis. The GPs'working hypotheses implied 'no structural pathology' in 65/89 patients, and 'fibroids' in 24/89 patients. Sonographic findings were confirmed in 50/65 patients where 'no structural pathology', and in 14/24 of those where 'fibroids' were expected. Initially, GPs had intended to refer nine patients to a gynaecologist. Actualmanagement after sonographic assessment was watchful waiting or drug therapy in 57/89 patients. Eighty-nine per cent of these patients had normal sonographic findings. The actual referral rate rose to 27/89 patients. In 17 referred patients, sonographic findings were suggestive of intracavitary abnormalities. Conclusion: Open-access sonography contributed tomore accurate diagnoses and improved GPs'management of women with abnormal vaginal bleeding.