Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on radiology department emergency ultrasound utilization

Mark D. Messina, Marjorie W. Stein, Ian J. Armstrong, Ellen L. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: To analyze the change in utilization of healthcare resources through a review of ultrasound examinations performed in the emergency department of an urban healthcare system in NYC during the time of peak COVID-19 outbreak. Methods: This is a retrospective review analyzing ED ultrasound exams performed by the radiology department of an urban healthcare system during the 8-week time period of the peak COVID-19 outbreak in NYC, compared to a time-matched period one year prior. Data regarding the examination type and indication were obtained in addition to patient demographics and indicators of outcomes including admission, length of stay, and mortality. Results: There was a 58% decrease in ED ultrasounds performed by the radiology department during the COVID-19 time period. Exams performed during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period were more likely to be performed on men (28.3 vs 18.0%, p < 0.01), older patients (36 vs. 35 years, p = 0.02), and patients subsequently admitted (17.8 vs. 13.4%, p = 0.03). There was also a difference in the distribution of exam type (p = 0.01). There was no difference in death, rate of surgery/intervention performed, or distribution of clinical indication. When correcting for gender, there was only an increase in studies leading to hospital admission in the female-only group (14.9 vs. 10.7%, p = 0.05). Conclusion: COVID-19 had a drastic impact on the utilization of emergency department ultrasounds performed by the radiology department, with a decrease in total exams performed and changes in patient demographics, including a higher proportion of male patients and increases in some markers of disease severity, including rate of hospital admission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-875
Number of pages7
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Emergency radiology
  • Imaging utilization
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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