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Obstetric Ultrasound Use in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A narrative review

by on October 31, 2018

Obstetric ultrasound use in low and middle income countries: a narrative reviewAlthough growing, evidence on the impact, access, utility, effectiveness, and cost-benefit of obstetric ultrasound in resource-constrained settings is still somewhat limited. Hence, questions around the purpose and the intended benefit as well as potential challenges across various domains must be carefully reviewed prior to implementation and scale-up of obstetric ultrasound technology in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).

This narrative review discusses these issues for those trying to implement or scale-up ultrasound technology in LMICs. Issues addressed in this review include health personnel capacity, maintenance, cost, overuse and misuse of ultrasound, miscommunication between the providers and patients, patient diagnosis and care management, health outcomes, patient perceptions and concerns about fetal sex determination.

As cost of obstetric ultrasound becomes more affordable in LMICs, it is essential to assess the benefits, trade-offs and potential drawbacks of large-scale implementation. Additionally, there is a need to more clearly identify the capabilities and the limitations of ultrasound, particularly within the context of limited training of providers, to ensure that the purpose for which an ultrasound is intended is actually feasible. We found evidence of obstetric uses of ultrasound improving patient management. However, there was evidence that ultrasound use is not associated with reducing maternal, perinatal or neonatal mortality. Patients in various studies reported to have both positive and negative perceptions and experiences related to ultrasound and lastly, illegal use of ultrasound for determining fetal sex was raised as a concern.

Access the journal article.

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