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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848


MASHIANE, Salome E.; VAN DYK, Barbara  and  CASMOD, Yasmin. Ultrasound biosafety: Knowledge and opinions of health practitioners who perform obstetric scans in South Africa. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2019, vol.24, pp.1-11. ISSN 2071-9736.

BACKGROUND: Diagnostic ultrasound is generally considered as a safe test in pregnancy. To date there is no evidence that ultrasound has caused harm to the developing foetus. However, with the number of obstetric scans on the rise and the steep increase in acoustic output achieved by modern machines, the lack of evidence of absolute safety remains a concern. Acoustic output is under the direct control of the operator and is therefore the operator's responsibility to keep the intensity as low as reasonably achievable. A situation analysis in the South African context was deemed necessary to determine end user knowledge and opinions on safe antenatal ultrasound practice. AIM: The aim of this quantitative descriptive, cross-sectional study was to evaluate the knowledge and practice of health practitioners who perform antenatal scans regarding safety aspects of diagnostic ultrasound. SETTING: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed at two national congresses, hosted by the South African Society of Ultrasound and Obstetrics (SASUOG) and South African Society of Obstetricians (SASOG) committees. METHOD: Quota non-probability sampling allowed for the identification of professional categories capable of providing information relevant to the study objectives. The sample represented a population with experience in obstetric ultrasound. RESULTS: Compared to international studies, South African end users demonstrated better knowledge of safety indices than their international counterparts. It is, however, discouraging that end users still demonstrate insufficient knowledge regarding factors contributing to adverse biological effects. CONCLUSION: With room for improvement, an effort should be made to comply with international standards through increased training efforts and raising awareness.

Keywords : Obstetric Ultrasound; Ultrasound Bio-Effects; Safety Indices and Principles; Acoustic Output; Mechanical Index; Thermal Index; Teratogenic; ALARA.

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