What Does A Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?

Sonographers are healthcare professionals who work with specialized equipment popularly known as the ultrasound machine to help medical doctors see what is going on inside the patient’s body. A radiation-free imaging procedure, sonography is the preferred modality for determining how a fetus is doing inside a pregnant woman’s body. It is also used to get an inside look at the abdomen and organs like the liver, spleen and pancreas that are found there; examine abnormalities in the breast; evaluate the blood flow of the heart of both children and adults; visualize the muscles and joints and even see the brain and the spinal cord.

Using high frequency sound waves or ultrasound, sonography is able to create a dynamic visualization of the patient’s internal organs so that the sonographer is able to see in real time the “events” that are happening there. Sonographers use a device known as a transducer to send high frequency sound waves inside the body.

These sound waves will then bounce off the body’s internal structures and the sounds get captured by the computer and translated to images which are seen on the ultrasound screen and then recorded. The findings of an ultrasound scan help physicians make a final diagnosis about the condition of a patient and determine the best course of treatment to take.

Before sonographers proceed with the ultrasound, they ask the patient about his medical history and record it. They also put the patients at ease by informing them about the steps involved in the procedure and answering their concerns about it. They would then start the ultrasound process, following the physician’s orders on what parts of the body need to be imaged.

In the course of the procedure, they may ask the patient to move or position themselves in a particular manner in order to obtain a clear visualization of the organ or tissue being examined. If the patient is unable to move, sonographers may have to provide assistance by lifting or turning them. It’s essential for sonographers to perform the sonography procedure in an organized manner so as to prevent any part from being missed out.

In case they find something odd or different about the images they are seeing, sonographers are given the freedom to visualize nearby organs. Their independent judgment on these matters help doctors get a more comprehensive view about the condition of a particular organ which would help them give a more accurate diagnosis of the patient’s illness.

After the procedure, sonographers review the images and analyze the technical findings. They usually write a summary of what they have found during their visualization. For example, they may find cysts or tumors in the breasts that could potentially be cancerous.

Sonographers may also assist surgeons in invasive procedures. For instance, if a biopsy needs to be performed in the liver or other abdominal organ, they may be called upon to provide ultrasound guidance. They may also work with doctors who need to deliver medication via injection straight to a patient’s tissues. This requires ultrasound guidance as well. Sonographers also work with obstetricians to monitor the health of a developing fetus. They can also check for congenital abnormalities and help them craft a course of action to manage the condition.

When not performing ultrasound procedures or assisting surgeons, sonographers also perform record keeping duties. They also archive computerized images and help in scheduling tasks. Experienced sonographers may also manage the personnel in their respective departments. Moreover, they are also responsible for maintaining ultrasound equipment. They have to see to it that it is functional and working before each procedure.

During procedures, sonographers must be fit enough to be able to stand on their feet about 80 percent of the time. They should also be able to lift over 50 pounds of weight since they may have to assist injured and immobile patients. They must also have good hearing and eyesight since they need to distinguish between the different kinds of audible sounds produced by the various structures in the body and determine the color differences in the sonograms.

As in any healthcare profession, they are expected to deal with patients in a compassionate and understanding manner and give instructions to them clearly. They are also expected to communicate with other members of the healthcare team about their findings and help in crafting a unique care plan for each patient.

Career Spotlight: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

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