Original Research

The use of point-of-care ultrasound in a regional emergency department in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Halalisiwe B. Khanyi, Bavani Naicker
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 3| a5269 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5269 | © 2021 Halalisiwe B. Khanyi, Bavani Naicker | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 December 2020 | Published: 23 August 2021

About the author(s)

Halalisiwe B. Khanyi, Division of Emergency Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Bavani Naicker, Division of Emergency Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Formal ultrasonography has advanced to point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in the emergency department (ED) for the purpose of acute critical care. While POCUS application expands, little is known about POCUS utilisation in public hospital EDs. This study aimed to describe the use of POCUS in an ED in KwaZulu-Natal.

Methods: A retrospective chart review study was conducted on all patients who had POCUS exams performed in the ED at the General Justice Gizenga Mpanza Regional Hospital from 01 September 2019 to 31 March 2020. A data collection tool was used to extract the required data from the Mindray M6 ultrasound machine. The data were processed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 26) and descriptive statistics were used to summarise the data.

Results: A total of 978 POCUS were performed on 784 patients. Point-of-care ultrasound was utilised more often for focused emergency echocardiography in resuscitation (n = 383) and extended focused assessment with sonography for trauma (n = 319). The findings were normal in 17% of exams, 31% were positive, 9% were unspecified and 43% of POCUS exams were inconclusive. Seven percent of POCUS exams were performed by accredited level 1 emergency POCUS providers and ultrasounds occurred more frequently during day-shift hours than after-hours.

Conclusion: Point-of-care ultrasound core applications were utilised by ED doctors for various emergency care scenarios, mainly for trauma and cardiac assessments.


point-of-care ultrasound; emergency ultrasound; emergency care; emergency department; emergency medicine; critical care; primary care; prehospital care


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