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Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

The Job

Sonographers are responsible for the proper selection and preparation of the ultrasound equipment for each specific exam. They are supervised by a physician or radiologist. Sonographers explain the procedure to patients, recording any additional pertinent information, and assist patients in the proper physical position so that the test may begin.

When the patient is properly aligned, the sonographer applies a gel to the skin that improves the diagnostic image. The sonographer selects the transducer, a microphone-shaped device that directs high-frequency sound waves into the area to be imaged, and adjusts equipment controls according to the proper depth of field and specific organ or structure to be examined. The transducer is moved as the sonographer monitors the sound wave display screen in order to ensure that a quality ultrasonic image is being produced. Sonographers must master the location and visualization of human anatomy to be able to clearly differentiate between healthy and pathological areas.

When a clear image is obtained, the sonographer activates equipment that records individual photographic views or sequences as real-time images of the affected area. These images are recorded on computer disk, magnetic tape, strip printout, film, or video. The sonographer removes the recording and prepares it for analysis by the physician. In order to be able to discuss the procedure with the physician, if asked, the sonographer may also record data or observations that occurred during the exam.

Sonographers can be trained in the following specialties: abdomen, breast, echocardiography, neurosonology, obstetrics/gynecology, ophthalmology, musculoskeletal, pediatric, and vascular technology.

Other duties include updating patient records, monitoring and adjusting sonographic equipment to maintain accuracy, and, after considerable experience, preparing work schedules and evaluating potential equipment purchases.

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