Introduction: Our goal was to determine if heated gel for emergency department (ED) bedsideultrasonography improves patient satisfaction compared to room-temperature gel.
Methods: We randomized a convenience sample of ED patients determined by their treating physicianto require a bedside ultrasound (US) study to either heated gel (102.0° F) or room-temperature gel(82.3° F). Investigators performed all US examinations. We informed all subjects that the study entailedinvestigation into various measures to improve patient satisfaction with ED US examinations but didnot inform them of our specific focus on gel temperature. Investigators wore heat-resistant gloves whileperforming the examinations to blind themselves to the gel temperature. After completion of the US,subjects completed a survey including the primary outcome measure of patient satisfaction as measuredon a 100-mm visual analogue scale (VAS). A secondary outcome was patient perceptions of sonographerprofessionalism measured by an ordinal scale (1-5).
Results: We enrolled 124 subjects; 120 completed all outcome measures. Of these, 59 underwentrandomization to US studies with room-temperature gel and 61 underwent randomization to heated USgel. Patient 100-mm VAS satisfaction scores were 83.9 among patients undergoing studies with roomtemperaturegel versus 87.6 among subjects undergoing studies with heated gel (effect size 3.7, 95%confidence interval -1.3-8.6). There were similarly no differences between the two arms with regard topatient perceptions of sonographer professionalism.
Conclusion: The use of heated ultrasound gel appears to have no material impact on the satisfaction ofED patients undergoing bedside ultrasound studies.