Ultrasound Technologist/Technician  What They Do

Just the Facts

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Career Video

Insider Info

dotSonography is better known as ultrasound. It is a medical technique rapidly gaining popularity as a tool for seeing inside the body. And it's not just for babies anymore!

Images of any part of the body can be recorded with sound waves. Areas of special interest are the abdomen, female pelvis, veins and arteries, and the heart.

dotIn its early years, ultrasound equipment had parts that looked like bristled toothbrushes. The images obtained were grainy and had little detail. These days, computers help create detailed images of most parts of the body, helping medical staff diagnose and heal illness and injury.

dotSonographers obtain images, then put together clinical and diagnostic findings. They also help move patients and equipment. Work takes place in hospitals, clinics, commercial areas and research.

Diagnostic medical sonographers may also be known as ultrasound technicians or technologists, or ultrasonographers.

dotThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ultrasound for use in bone-density studies. Now chiropractors are using ultrasound for soft-tissue spinal studies. It's also used in veterinary medicine.

"Ultrasound is being used more for intervention procedures," says Janet Roe. She's the chief clinical sonographer at the University of Iowa Hospital.

A recent trend is the use of contrast agents -- substances that are injected into the bloodstream to help blood vessels show up in an ultrasound study. This allows medical professionals to see how blood flows to the organs. Roe says ultrasound is now being used to help in surgery.

dotSonographer Sandra Mayer says repetitive strain disorder is a growing problem for sonographers. Sonographers are being taught how to prevent strain. Equipment makers are being asked to build ultrasound machines that put less stress on the wrist.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Take ultrasounds and put together clinical and diagnostic findings

  • You can work in hospitals or in research facilities
  • Ultrasound is used in veterinary medicine too
  • Training programs may be two or four years in length