Introduction Sexual health services see a number of women who once infection is excluded, may require the use of pelvic ultrasound to aid diagnosis. Without in-house scanning facilities, they often end up on a convoluted route involving several appointments across clinical specialities.
Methods This observational study examined two consecutive years of referrals for pelvic ultrasounds from a busy integrated sexual health service, where in-house scanning was not available. Information from referrals to radiology was gathered from an imaging database where indication and outcomes were analysed from scan reports.
Results 190 patients were scanned with a mean age of 31. 184/190(97%) were outpatients. 79/190(42%) were scanned for pelvic pain, and 42/190(22%) for coil related concerns. 141/190(74%) of scans had normal findings. Of coil related referrals, only 1/42(2%) needed intervention. 19/190(10%) of pelvic ultrasounds had incidental findings not requiring follow up, and 30/190(16%) had findings requiring intervention or follow up.
Discussion In this study, all coils with ‘lost threads’ were found to be intrauterine – and therefore could be managed within an integrated sexual health service. Only a small number of those scanned needed onward referral or follow-up. With scanning expertise and resources, patients would be seen more quickly, with a reduction in appointments and fewer referrals. This would result in improved patient satisfaction and reduced costs to the NHS. The set-up costs would be offset in the long-term by keeping patients out of the acute setting.