A sonographer is required to operate and maintain complex ultrasound equipment in order to perform sonographic procedures. Operating sonography equipment and producing high-quality images takes a significant amount of training and practice.
The ultrasound process involves applying a gel to the skin in the area that needs to be examined which helps with the transmission of sound waves. Then the sonographer places an acoustic transducer on the patient’s skin. The transducer produces high-frequency sound waves that are transmitted into the body.
These sound waves bounce around the parts inside the patient’s body and then come back to the transducer which detects these wave echos and how they bounce around inside the body. Structures in the body will reflect these sound waves differently. Mapping these waves together produces an image of the body’s internal structures. The sonographer’s goal is to move and manipulate the transducer over the body in order to obtain the best view of the situation inside the patient.
These acoustic signals are then converted into electronic signals to create a digital image of internal organs, blood vessels and other structures. These images can be viewed on a monitor and can be recorded on video for use by other medical professionals, such as doctors, surgeons and radiologists.
The sonographer will issue a medical report that will be used by the clinicians to identify the best way of treatment associated with the patient's symptoms and ultrasonic findings.
A sonographer spends more time with their patients than many other health care professionals. The ultrasound process is very “hands-on”, and many technicians appreciate the amount of patient contact they get to be involved with.
While some sonographers specialize in a certain area, others perform on a variety of patients and conditions. Many sonographers work in tracking fetal health and development. Other specialities include abdominal, adult and pediatric heart and vascular procedures. A cardiac sonographer (also known as an echocardiographer) works on researching the heart and supporting vein system.