North American musculoskeletal ultrasound scanning protocol of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand: update of a Delphi Consensus Study


Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction/Objectives: There has been an increase in the proficiency and utilization of ultrasound among North American rheumatologists over the past decade. This study aims to create an updated upper extremity scanning protocol to inform ultrasound curriculum development for the American College of Rheumatology affiliated fellowship programs and guide clinical practice patterns in North America. Method: Three Delphi survey rounds were used to reach consensus on tiered-mastery designations for scan views of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand joints. The survey was disseminated by Qualtrics™ to 101 potential participants with ultrasound experience. High agreement was defined as having ≥ 85% consensus and final tier designation as > 50% agreement for a preferred tier. Changes in responses were evaluated by McNemar’s chi-square test. Results: Consensus was achieved for 70% of scan views of the upper extremity joints. Two views—ulnar transverse view of the wrist and the radial/ulnar orthogonal views over metacarpophalangeal joints 2 and 5 of the hand—were upgraded from tier 2 to tier 1. The suprascapular transverse and the axillary longitudinal views of the shoulder were downgraded from tier 2 to tier 3. A new anterior transverse view of the elbow was added to the protocol with tier 1 designation. Conclusions: This study reflects the current opinions of North American rheumatologists for scanning upper extremity joints and provides support for the updated protocol and guidance for educators in rheumatology ultrasound.Key Points• Ultrasound scan views of the metacarpophalangeal, wrist, elbow, and glenohumeral joint recesses and views of the biceps and rotator cuff tendons at the shoulder were perceived as essential views of the upper extremity scanning protocol for rheumatologists to master and perform routinely.• A targeted scanning approach of the upper extremity joints may be considered when focal symptoms are present.• The North American Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Scanning Protocol shares some similarities with existing musculoskeletal ultrasound protocols of other specialties and worldwide rheumatology societies but varies in the extent of examination and emphasis on certain specialty-specific focuses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3825-3835
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound
  • Scanning protocol
  • Ultrasound of the elbow
  • Ultrasound of the shoulder
  • Ultrasound of the wrist and ultrasound of the hand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


Dive into the research topics of 'North American musculoskeletal ultrasound scanning protocol of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand: update of a Delphi Consensus Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this