The International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISUOG) have published a position statement: ISUOG Safety Committee Position Statement on use of personal protective equipment and hazard mitigation in relation to SARS-CoV-2 for practitioners undertaking obstetric and gynecological ultrasound.
It has been written by experts from across the world and the SCoR have been involved with reviewing the guidance, along with other professional organisations.
The report highlights the risks in ultrasound from factors such as close proximity to the patient for an extended period of time, environmental constraints from small rooms with limited ventilation, and the nature of the examination, for example asking patients to 'inhale or exhale deeply.'
The key highlights for sonographers and other ultrasound practitioners include rationalising and prioritisation of examinations when staff shortages are a problem and keeping exposure to potential virus-spread to a minimum.
This can be achieved by considering 'saving 2D "sweeps”', rather than still images to shorten scan times, undertake measurements from the sweeps, and in Covid-19 positive or suspected cases, using the most experienced staff to complete the scan as quickly as possible.
Within the guidance is advice on training for effective use of PPE and ensuring good hand hygiene. There is also a table showing PPE requirements for different categories of patient, including asymptomatic cases.
The SCoR are concerned about sonographers working without PPE, as statistics from Wuhan demonstrated a higher infection rate amongst ultrasound staff than other clinicians. The guidance recommends the use of a surgical face mask for each session of asymptomatic patients and a respirator (FFP2, FFP3 or N95) for suspected/probably/confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The statement should be used in conjunction with other resources to ensure that sonographers are provided with appropriate PPE to enable them to perform their roles safely and protect themselves and patients.