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The Many Sides of Sonography

When people think of sonographers, the first thing that springs to mind is obstetrics. However, there are many more opportunities for sonographers than running ultrasounds for moms-to-be. They may specialize in abdominal sonography, neurosonagraphy, ophthalmic sonography, echocardiography, and vascular technology.

An abdominal sonographer uses sonography to inspect patients’ abdomens. They look for abnormalities or disease in the liver, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, gallbladder and bile ducts, and also use the technology as a means of treatment, determining whether the current course of therapy has been effective. In some cases they may scan parts of the chest as well, but this area is usually left to the echocardiographer.

A neurosonagrapher specializes in the area of the brain and nervous system. They diagnose disorders of the nervous system and abnormalities in the brain, such as tumors. They may also scan for evidence of strokes. Neurosonographers also use slightly different technology than obstetric or abdominal sonographers in order to produce their scans.

Ophthalmic sonographers study the eyes. They diagnose tumors, separated retinas and other diseases of the eyes. They can also provide accurate measurements of the eye for the insertion of prosthetics. The technology used in ophthalmic sonography is specific to the practice, much smaller than that used by other areas.

An echocardiographer deals specifically with the heart. They use ultrasound technology to get an accurate picture of the heart, which can be done while the patient is resting or active. These pictures, called echocardiograms, are used to examine the chambers, valves, and vessels of the heart and identify any abnormalities or disorders. Vascular technologists deal with similar areas, mainly the circulatory system. They use the ultrasound technology to check blood flow and circulation, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. These tests are usually run during or immediately after surgery to ensure that every organ is getting the amount of blood it needs to function properly, and also to check for any abnormalities in the amount of blood flowing to certain areas.

Programs to Consider:

In addition to performing the scans, sonographers are also responsible for keeping accurate patient records and being able to analyze the information obtained in the scans for diagnosis and treatment. They also maintain their own equipment, and may be responsible for the purchase of new equipment, as well as keeping abreast of any technological advances. Some sonographers may become department supervisors, responsible for the actions and operation of the entire sonography team.

Sonography is a growing opportunity in the medical field, expected to increase more quickly than any other area, especially as technology and uses expand. It can also lead to several opportunities outside the hospital or private practice, including research and education. Not limited to the practice of obstetrics, it can be an exciting and rewarding profession, both professionally and personally.