Diagnostic medical sonographers use special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient’s body (in a procedure commonly known as an ultrasound, sonogram, or echocardiogram) to assess and diagnose various medical conditions. Most diagnostic medical sonographers work in hospitals. Some work in physicians’ offices or imaging clinics. Sonographers may be on their feet for long periods and may need to lift or turn disabled patients.
Also known as: Cardiac Vascular Sonographer, Obstetric and Gynecologic Sonographer, Neurosonographer, Musculoskeletal Sonographer, Cardiac Sonographer, Breast Sonographer, Abdominal Sonographer, Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Ultrasonographer, Sonographer
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Diagnostic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. The sonographer presses an instrument called an ultrasound transducer to the parts of the patient’s body that are being examined. The transducer emits pulses of sound that bounce back, causing echoes. The echoes are then sent to the ultrasound machine, which processes them and displays them as images. Some responsibilities of a diagnostic medical sonographer include:
Diagnostic medical sonographers specialize in different parts of the body. The following are examples of specific types of sonographers:
Abdominal sonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s abdominal cavity and nearby organs, such as the kidney, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or spleen.
Breast sonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s breast tissues. Sonography aids mammography in the detection of breast cancer. Breast sonography is also used to track tumors in breast cancer patients.
Musculoskeletal sonographers specialize in imaging muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.
Neurosonographers specialize in imaging a patient’s nervous system, including the brain.
Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in imaging the female reproductive system. Many pregnant women receive ultrasounds to track the baby's growth and health.
Cardiovascular and vascular technologists use sonography to assist physicians in diagnosing problems with a patient’s heart, arteries and veins.
Diagnostic medical sonographers do most of their work at diagnostic imaging machines in dimly lit rooms, but they may also perform procedures at patients' bedsides. Sonographers may be on their feet for long periods and may need to lift or turn patients who are disabled.