A retrospective analysis of 227 patients undergoing ultrasonography (US) of the hand/wrist over a three-year period in a district general hospital trust was performed. The usefulness in each case was assessed by two independent reviewers using a qualitative rating system, as (A) Useful: determines management, (B) Useful: contributory, (C) Not useful: not misleading, or (D) Not useful: misleading/potentially harmful. US was useful in 74.8% of cases but misleading/potentially harmful in 13.1%. Misleading rates exceeding 10% in sub-categories including tendinopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, foreign body and lumps, where US findings may influence the decision to operate or not, are particularly worrying. There were a number of cases where US led to unnecessary operations or suggested operating on the wrong structures, and also cases where US findings wrongly suggested that surgery was unnecessary. Various recommendations aimed to improve the usefulness of US in the Hand and Wrist, including mandatory/formal musculoskeletal US training, are made.
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Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Child, Female, Hand, Hospitals, District, Hospitals, General, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Musculoskeletal Diseases, Retrospective Studies, Ultrasonography, Wrist, Young Adult