Sonography, also called ultrasound imaging, is a diagnostic tool that utilizes high frequency sound waves to produce visual images of the inside of the human body. These images are used by doctors to help evaluate a patient’s health.
The person who performs the imaging task is called a diagnostic medical sonographer. The sonographer will move a probe, known as a transducer, over the area of the body being investigated to create the images. A thick conducting gel is applied to that area to improve the accuracy of the transducer. Some ultrasound exams require inserting a probe into the body.
A sonographer, also called an ultrasound technician, has several primary duties including:
- Providing the patients’ doctors with the images, which are called sonographs, created by the ultrasonic waves.
- Reading and interpreting those images.
The acquired images, along with other clinical information for the patient, are used to create a reliable summary for a doctor qualified to make the diagnosis. It’s important that sonographers and doctors work closely together so that the correct diagnosis is made. For patients to receive the best care available, sonographers need to work with all health care team members.
A sonographer performs many tasks within the health care field. Besides getting patients ready for the ultrasound test and actually performing it, sonographers need to talk with patients on what they can expect during the exam so that they’re at ease. They’ll need to get the patients’ medical histories and explain the doctor’s instructions. They’re also required to help with the scheduling, record keeping, and archiving of the ultrasound images.
Sonographers play an important part in patient care as getting the right information from an ultrasound exam depends exclusively on their technical expertise and skills. Thus, they must go through intensive training to prepare themselves before performing real exams. This training can be done by enrolling in educational programs and receiving an ultrasound degree. There are many places that a person interested in becoming a sonographer can study such as community colleges, universities, and medical centers. Other places to study sonography include hospitals and the Armed Forces.
Students have the option attending formal sonography classes or being given on-the-job training. Allied health care professionals may also obtain their ultrasound sonography diploma by taking one year’s worth of the necessary ultrasound training. It’s important that the ultrasound programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
How long a person must stay in school will depend on the ultrasound program or degree desired.
- Health care professionals can obtain their diagnostic sonography certification after just one year of preparation.
- An Associate medical sonography degree takes just two years.
- A Bachelor medical sonography degree will take four years worth of training.
The majority of potential sonographers finish a two-year medical ultrasound program giving them an Associate’s degree.
Ultrasound curriculums typically include the following things:
- Basic and advanced physics and instrumentation
- Biological effects of ultrasound
- Emergency care
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Image evaluation and administration
- Physical principles of ultrasound
- Sonography patient care
- Techniques in imaging
- Ultrasound applications and limitations