Trends in utilisation of ultrasound by older Australians (2010–2019)

Virginie Gaget, Maria C. Inacio, David R. Tivey, Robert N. Jorissen, Wendy J. Babidge, Renuka Visvanathan, Guy J. Maddern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Older people have increasingly complex healthcare needs, often requiring appropriate access to diagnostic imaging, an essential component of their health and disease management planning. Ultrasound is a safe imaging tool used to diagnose several conditions commonly experienced by older people such as deep vein thrombosis. Purpose: To evaluate the utilisation of major ultrasound services by Australians ≥ 65 years old between 2009- and 2019. Methods: This population-based and yearly cross-sectional study of ultrasound utilisation per 1,000 Australians ≥ 65 years old was conducted using publicly available data sources. Overall, examination site and age- and sex-specific incidence rate (IR) of ultrasound per 1,000 people, adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using negative binomial regression models. Results: Over the study period, the crude utilisation of ultrasound increased by 83% in older Australians. Most ultrasound examinations were conducted on extremities (39%) and the chest (21%), with 25% of all ultrasounds investigating the vascular system. More men than women use ultrasounds of the chest (184/1,000 vs 268/1,000 people), particularly echocardiograms (177/1,000 vs 261/1,000 people), and abdomen (88/1,000 vs 92/1,000 people), especially in those ≥ 85 years old. Hip and pelvic ultrasound were used more by women than men (212/1,000 vs 182/1,000 people). There were increases in vascular abdominal (IRR:1.07, 95%CI:1.06–1.08) and extremeties (IRR:1.06, 95%CI:1.05–1.07) ultrasounds over the study period, particularly in ≥ 75 years old men. Conclusions: Ultrasound is a common and increasingly used diagnostic tool for conditions commonly experienced by older Australians.

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2023


  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Echography
  • Epidemiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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