BACKGROUND: The first aim of this research was to investigate the current prevalence of musculoskeletal ultrasound in Dutch physiotherapy practices. The second aim was to explore experiences of physiotherapists with musculoskeletal ultrasound in a primary care setting with patients presenting with shoulder complaints. METHODS: A random sample of 1000 owners of primary care physiotherapy practices was sent a questionnaire to investigate the prevalence of musculoskeletal ultrasound. A second questionnaire was sent to physiotherapists using musculoskeletal ultrasound to explore experiences with it in patients with shoulder complaints. RESULTS: The net response rate of the first questionnaire was 57.7%. In 18% of the physiotherapy practices musculoskeletal ultrasound was offered. Sixty-nine physiotherapists returned the second questionnaire. Physiotherapists indicated they most often used musculoskeletal ultrasound in patients with shoulder complaints, mainly for suspected tissue damage (83.7%), followed by making a diagnosis (63.3%) and for determining the choice of treatment (36.7%). Physiotherapists reported the biggest advantage was that they were better able to diagnose presenting shoulder complaints. The most frequently mentioned disadvantage of the use of musculoskeletal ultrasound was that assessment is difficult and that there is a risk that findings may not be sufficiently linked to history and physical examination. CONCLUSION: One in six physiotherapy practices in the Netherlands offer musculoskeletal ultrasound. It is mainly used for patients with shoulder complaints, with an emphasis on detecting tissue damage and as an aid for diagnosis. Physiotherapists trained to work with musculoskeletal ultrasound seem enthusiastic and are at the same time aware of its disadvantages.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Musculoskeletal pain, Physical therapy modalities, Shoulder pain, Ultrasonography
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12913-020-05119-3, hdl.handle.net/1765/125912
Journal BMC health services research
Citation
Kooijman, M.K, Swinkels, I.C, Koes, B.W, de Bakker, D.H, & Veenhof, C.H. (2020). One in six physiotherapy practices in primary care offer musculoskeletal ultrasound - an explorative survey. BMC health services research, 20(1). doi:10.1186/s12913-020-05119-3