Ultrasonography, commonly called sonography, is a diagnostic medical procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce dynamic visual images of organs, tissues, or blood flow inside the body. This type of procedure is often referred to as a sonogram or ultrasound scan. Ultrasonography can be used to examine many parts of the body, such as the abdomen, breasts, female reproductive system, superficial structures, prostate, heart, and blood vessels.
Ultrasonography is a high frequency sound-based diagnostic medical imaging tool used to image muscles, tendons, soft tissue, pregnancy, fetuses during routine and emergency prenatal care, cardiovascular and many internal organs, to record capture their size, function, structure and any pathological lesions with real time tomographic images in 2D, 3D or 4D.
Ultrasound has become one of the most widely used diagnostic exams in modern medicine and is increasingly being used in the detection and diagnosis of various diseases and illnesses including heart disease, heart attack, and vascular diseases that can lead to stroke. It is also used to guide a fine needle, for tissue biopsy, thoracocentesis and amniocentesis, and to assist in taking a sample of cells from an organ or structure for lab testing (for example, a test for cancer in breast tissue and fetal growth in uterus).
The professionals who perform these procedures are known as sonographers or ultrasound technologists. There are several areas of specialization in the field of ultrasound. These specialty areas are:
Abdomen, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Echocardiography, and Vascular Technology.
A diagnostic medical sonographer is a highly-skilled professional who uses specialized equipment to create images of structures inside the human body that are used to aid physicians to make a medical diagnosis. The process involves placing a small device called a transducer against the patient's skin near the body area to be imaged. The transducer works like a loudspeaker and microphone because it can transmit sound and receive sound. The transducer sends a stream of high frequency sound waves into the body that bounce off the structures inside. The transducer detects sound waves as they bounce off the internal structures as echoes. Different structures in the body reflect these sound waves differently. These echoes are analyzed by a computer to make a real-time image of the structure(s) on a television screen or that can be recorded on, CD /DVD- Rom, film, video tape or video paper and in electronic servers.
In addition to excellent career opportunities, salaries for sonographers are competitive with or higher than other professionals with similar levels of education. Estimated *median annual earnings of diagnostic medical sonographers were $65,210 in 2011. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,8300 and $76,060 a year.
Salaries vary depending on years of experience, number of specialties practiced, as well as geographic location.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2011 Edition, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032.htm (visited September 28, 2012).
Accredited by CAAHEP for general and vascular tracks.