Cureus. 2022 Nov 21;14(11):e31722. doi: 10.7759/cureus.31722. eCollection 2022 Nov.
Introduction Medical students are trained using anatomical landmarks in order to perform many procedures, such as knee aspirations. With the growing popularity and use of ultrasound, the question arises whether training students with ultrasound instead of landmarks increases their skill. Previous research has shown increased accuracy and confidence in residents who trained with ultrasound compared to landmarks only. No studies to date have analyzed the effect of ultrasound learning versus landmark learning in medical students. Objective The purpose of this study is to analyze the confidence and accuracy of medical students when taught knee aspiration using ultrasound training compared to students taught with landmarks only. Methods The project was deemed exempt by the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) Institutional Review Board (IRB) because it falls under the quality improvement category (IRB number 1806802-1). Subjects were randomized into two groups: one trained in ultrasound and one trained in landmarks for performing knee aspirations. Both groups were tested for accuracy by the ability to aspirate fluid from the model and the number of attempts; each student was given a maximum of three attempts. Documentation included the number of attempts for each student or "no fluid" for those exceeding three attempts. They were then surveyed for confidence. The study took place in an educational setting at VCOM-Carolinas. A total of 42 first-year medical students participated in this study. Results Fisher's exact test showed statistically significant results for confidence (p<0.001) between the ultrasound group (N=22) and non-ultrasound group (N=20) with a power of 0.285. The accuracy of aspirating fluid was not found to be statistically significant (p=0.4805). Conclusions Although no significant differences in the accuracy of knee aspirations at short term were seen, there was a clear improvement in student confidence and perceived capability of the skill. Those students who learned using ultrasound-guided techniques were more confident in their ability to accurately perform the technique when compared to their peers.