MANUSCRIPT: Ultrasound-based lectures on cardiovascular physiology and reflexes for medical students
Ultrasound has become a widely used diagnostic technique. While its role in patient evaluation is well known, its utility during preclinical courses such as anatomy and physiology is becoming increasingly recognized. The aim of the present study was to assess the feasibility/utility of integrating ultrasound-based sessions into conventional undergraduate medical school programs of physiology of the cardiovascular system and cardiovascular reflexes and to evaluate student perceptions of an ultrasound-based didactic session. Second-year medical students enrolled in the University of Padova attended a didactic session during which basic concepts regarding ultrasound instrumentation, image production, and spatial orientation were presented. Five anatomic sectors (the heart, aorta, neck vessels, inferior vena cava, and femoral veins) were then examined on a volunteer. Student perceptions of the images that were projected, the usefulness of the presentation, and the reproducibility of the experience were assessed at the end of the lecture with an anonymous questionnaire consisting of positive and negative items that were rated using a 5-point Likert scale and with two questions. One hundred eleven students attended the lecture; 99% of them found it very interesting, and none considered it boring or a waste of time. More than 96% thought it helped them to gain a better comprehension of the subject and would recommend it to a colleague. In conclusion, as ultrasound has been found to be a valuable resource for the teaching of physiology of the cardiovascular system and cardiovascular reflexes, efforts should be made to integrate ultrasound sessions into the traditional human physiology curriculum.