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Independent reporting sonographers: Could other countries follow the UK's lead?

Gibbs, Vivien; Harrison, G; Edwards, H

Independent reporting sonographers: Could other countries follow the UK's lead? Thumbnail


G Harrison

H Edwards



For many years, the majority of ultrasound examinations in the United Kingdom (UK), both obstetric and non-obstetric, have been performed by radiographers who have undergone postgraduate training. These sonographers scan, interpret and report their own examinations. Today, sonographer-led ultrasound services are an essential and well established part of diagnostic imaging departments. This model however, appears to be unique, with very little evidence of sonographers in countries outside the UK, appearing to offer a similar level of service.
A literature review was undertaken to investigate the background to the evolution of independent reporting in the UK. An exploration of the variable sonography services in other parts of the world was initiated, to obtain some insight into whether the UK model is practised elsewhere.

In the UK a successful model for ultrasound services has been practised for almost thirty years, with sonographers performing and reporting on ultrasound examinations. This practice is evidence-based with studies showing that detection rates and accuracy for ultrasound examinations are similar for sonographers and radiologists. The importance of good working relations with radiology colleagues and rigorous education and training was apparent in the development of successful sonography reporting practices in the UK.

No other country relies so heavily on sonographers. Throughout mainland Europe, physicians and general practitioners perform a significant proportion of ultrasound examinations. In other countries, sonographers may perform the scans but reporting remains primarily the domain of the overseeing medical staff.

Traditionally, in the UK sonographers work closely alongside radiologists and it is this team-working, along with escalating demand, which has helped lead to the success of the current model. Rigorous professional guidelines and training programmes for sonographers in the UK, have helped to ensure high standards of practice amongst sonographers.
The escalating need for ultrasound services is now causing some physicians from other parts of the world to start focusing their attention on the UK model as a possible solution to meet demand. Looking to the future, it is anticipated that more sonographer-led ultrasound departments will start to emerge and independent reporting will become common practice for sonographers. In order to support this however, it is important that appropriate, rigorous training programmes are established, and those who aspire to be independent reporting sonographers will need to forge good working relationships with medical colleagues.


Gibbs, V., Harrison, G., & Edwards, H. (2017). Independent reporting sonographers: Could other countries follow the UK's lead?. Synergy -London- Society and College of Radiographers then Society of Radiographers-, Nov, 25-29

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 9, 2017
Publication Date Nov 1, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 4, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 5, 2018
Journal Imaging & Therapy Practice
Print ISSN 1360-5518
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume Nov
Pages 25-29
Public URL
Publisher URL


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