The perceptions of clinicians using low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) for orthopaedic pathology: A national qualitative study


      • A high proportion of LIPUS users lack full awareness of how the technology works
      • Clinicians perceive LIPUS as a cost effective tool for the treatment of non-union
      • There is no standardized way of using the LIPUS technology



      Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) is a non-invasive treatment modality for delayed union or non-union of acute fractures. We aimed to assess the current use of LIPUS at a national level in the United Kingdom, why and how clinicians use it, what treatment protocols are followed, and what the current perceptions are on this technology.


      Using a detailed online survey compromised of 20 questions delivered to known LIPUS users, we were able to collect qualitative data on indication of use, type of machine used, personal views on the technology, frequency of usage, and treatment protocols. Each question was peer-reviewed to exclude bias.


      A total of 70 respondents completed the survey. LIPUS was used by most clinicians for cases of non-union (N = 55, 78.5%) and delayed union (N = 51, 72.8%). The majority of respondents personally used a LIPUS device between 1 and 5 times in 12 months (N = 38, 54.3%). Most considered LIPUS a failure after three to six months of treatment without clinical improvement (N = 39, 55.7%). A total of 32 respondents (45.7%) mentioned the need for funding approval before accessing LIPUS technology. Poor revision surgery candidates (N = 48, 68.6%) and atrophic non-union (N = 46, 65.7%) were the most frequently cited reasons for using LIPUS technology as treatment. Most participants (N = 48, 68.6%) considered LIPUS to be cost-effective. Despite most clinicians being comfortable with the use of LIPUS, some respondents did not understand the basic science underpinning the technology nor could explain the need for LIPUS to patients comfortably.


      LIPUS technology may have a significant role to play in the treatment of orthopaedic fracture related pathology. Regular users perceived the technology to be cost-effective and efficacious. Further research should standardize treatment protocols and aim to establish a national LIPUS registry


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