Sonographers and Ultrasound Technicians
Sonographers, sometimes called ultrasound technicians or diagnostic medical sonographers, operate ultrasound imaging equipment. This equipment uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of internal body tissue. This, in turn, helps a physician diagnose and monitor a variety of conditions, including pregnancy, heart disease and cancer. Diagnostic medical sonographers work directly with doctors and patients.
Anyone who has seen an ultrasound performed on an expecting mother will have some idea of the tasks of a Sonographer. Safisticated Ultrasound/Sonograph equipment is a type of medical imaging technology. The sonographer or ultrasound technician operates this equipment and creates images of the inside of the human body.
Typical work tasks include:
- Explaining the procedure and process to patients.
- Operating the equipment.
- Gathering and recording patient histories.
- Processing and analyzing the sonographic data.
- Providing a summary of findings to physicians for their use in diagnosis and treatment.
- Other office work such as assisting in patient scheduling, record keeping and image archiving.
The field of Sonography contains a great deal of variety and a number of specialty areas. Each area deals with a different part of the body and different medical conditions.
- Cardiovascular Sonographer: These specialists perform electrocardiograms (EKGs), ambulatory monitoring, graded exercise diagnostic examinations, as well as basic x-ray and laboratory procedures. Cardiovascular technologists may be employed in hospitals, cardiologists’ offices, mobile units, and other types of health care facilities.
- Abdominal Sonographer: These specialists inspect a patient’s abdominal cavity to help diagnose and treat conditions primarily involving the gallbladder, bile ducts, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and spleen.
- Obstetric-Gynecological Sonographer: These specialists study the female reproductive system. This includes one of the more well-known uses of sonography: tracking a baby’s growth and health while still in the womb.
- Neurosonographer: These specialists focus on the nervous system, including the brain. In neonatal care, neurosonographers study and diagnose disorders in premature infants. They also may scan blood vessels to check for abnormalities indicating a stroke in infants diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia.
- Mammographer: These specialists use Sonography to aid mammography in the detection of breast cancer. Breast sonography can track tumors, blood supply conditions and assist in the biopsy of breast tissue. Breast sonographers use special equipment called high-frequency transducers, made exclusively to study breast tissue.
Educational Requirements and Training
Training in Sonography and Ultrasound usually involves coursework at Technical Schools, Community Colleges or Junior Colleges and will result in an associate degree. There are other programs, including more accelerated options and institutions that specialize in medical imaging training. The ultimate goal is board certification. Programs duration and costs vary a great deal.
Opportunities abound for those seeking careers in diagnostic medical sonography. This is due in large part because both patients and doctors are seeking safer treatment methods and sonography is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to more traditional radiologic procedures. Hospitals should remain the principal employer of diagnostic medical sonographers but ultrasound technician employment can be expected to grow rapidly in other settings, such as: physician’s offices, medical clinics, medical and diagnostic laboratories and specialized diagnostic imaging centers.
A career as a ultrasound technician or sonographer offers a variety of interesting work environments for those looking for a high tech career in medicine.