A Sonogram is a medical diagnostic procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the body part being examined. The image or images created through the process are captured by a computer and then analyzed. The procedure is carried out using an instrument called a “transducer” which sends and receives sound waves to the intended body part. The sound waves that are received help create an image which is then studied and analyzed. The medical professional who conducts the procedure is called a “Sonogram Technician” or a “Sonographer”.
Who executes the sonogram? How is the procedure carried out?
A Sonogram technician is a trained healthcare professional who conducts the diagnosis by placing and moving the transducer against the body part to be examined. The patient is advised not to eat anything for several hours before the procedure in order to get clear images. The patient is also given a lot of water to drink before the procedure since that too helps the Sonographer to get clear images from the procedure. The Sonographer makes the patient feel comfortable to begin with and then proceeds by placing gel on the body part to be examined. S/he then places a transducer which sends sound waves to the body part to be investigated and also receives them back. The sonogram technician captures and studies the images thus produced to complete the procedure. S/he prepares a report after analyzing the images against set medical parameters to give a conclusion which might be passed on to a physician for further diagnosis.
Where does a sonogram technician work?
Sonographers or Sonogram Technicians work in hospitals, diagnostic centers or sometimes in private clinics of doctors. As most private clinics of doctors are not equipped with Sonography equipment, the chances of working with hospitals or diagnostic centers is a lot more than in private clinics of doctors.
What are the various job responsibilities in the role of a Sonogram Technician?
Sometimes, Sonogram technicians have certain other administrative responsibilities too such as maintaining records of images on the computer or archive them appropriately. As they move up the career ladder, their role involves supervision of junior staff. Since they need to analyze and study the sonograph in order to give accurate reports, Sonographers need to stay up-to-date through learning continuously. Some other related responsibilities in the role of a Sonogram Technician include choosing the proper equipment for the ultrasound (another commonly used substitute for the word “Sonogram”) and recording and saving the images thereby gathered. The Sonographer also makes an on-the-spot decision while conducting the sonogram to determine if the information gathered will suffice to complete the investigation in a satisfactory manner or whether he or she needs to continue the procedure for more time to get more detailed information.
The report made using the information thus collected is then typically passed on to a physician who analyses and interprets the results to arrive at a medical diagnosis. Since the sonogram technician uses sonogram technology for conducting the Sonography, she or he is well-versed with all the aspects of the computerized equipment. Besides being an expert with the equipment, the Sonographer needs to keep upgrading his expertise and knowledge levels related to Sonography equipment since he or she will also be expected to evaluate and assess new Sonography equipment that gets developed. Such developments in this medical diagnostic equipment are constant since technology keeps getting more and more sophisticated as human knowledge expands. For example, there were only two-dimensional images possible earlier but now we have three dimensional images and also four dimensional images (which are three-dimensional images captured with movement).
In order to perform his role well, a Sonographer needs to possess a detailed understanding of the human body in general along with in-depth knowledge about the body parts she or he specializes in diagnosing. He or she also needs to have a very clear understanding about the normal appearance of the internal parts of the body to detect aberrations accurately and timely in order to give a perfect diagnosis. Since he or she also needs to work with physicians and doctors as part of a healthcare team, it is important for him or her to be familiar with and understand medical jargon and terminology well.
When is Sonography used?
Sonography is a preferred method of diagnosis when compared to radiology as it does not omit any harmful radiation inside the body unlike X-rays. It is used to capture images of various body parts including muscles and joints to diagnose or rule out health related issues.
One of the most common usages of sonograph is in monitoring foetal well-being and development during different stages of pregnancy. As sound waves are non-invasive, this is a completely safe way of checking foetal and baby development and movements. Sonography is also used in the detection of cancer, fatty liver, heart disease and several other such diseases and also in routine preventive diagnosis of body parts.
During pregnancy, most women get a sonogram done around three to four times to ensure that their baby is developing normally. Sonograms are also invaluable when it comes to ruling out any fears related to problems with the baby while he or she is in the womb especially when the mother feels pain or discomfort. Sonogram technicians need to possess good interpersonal skills and also be sensitive in order to comfort distressed patients. As they understand information through images that patients do not, it is good for them to possess communication skills so they can communicate what they diagnose effectively and sensitively. The responsibility for the final diagnosis, however, lies with a certified medical doctor.
Another common and widespread usage of Sonography is in Echocardiography which acts as a definitive diagnostic procedure to determine cardiovascular problems. Sonograms are also used in neurology, ophthalmology, urology and gastroenterology.
How can one become a Sonogram Technician?
As this is a healthcare field, one needs to have studied science in school to be eligible for taking a course in Sonography. There are several colleges or institutes that offer a course in Medical Sonography in USA but one should make sure that the college or institute one chooses must be accredited by Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).The course focuses on biology, physics and instrumentation along with medicine related ethics. One can do a short-term one year or 2-year course or get a degree with a specialization if one wishes to earn a better salary.
Salary of a Sonogram Technician
Phlebotomist salary packages are somewhat same as sonogram techs. But, phlebotomists have better future after gaining experience in medical industry.Though the exact salary that is drawn would vary depending upon the employer, the location, the educational qualifications and past work experience, Sonogram Technicians in the United States get paid approximately $32 per hour or $67000 annually.
As seen above, the role of a sonogram technician is to conduct a sonograph effectively and also record the information thus found so it can be passed on to a doctor for a final diagnosis. A student with a background in science can pursue an accredited course in Sonography to become a certified Sonogram Technician who would be then employed with a hospital or a diagnostic center.