If you’re looking to start a career as an ultrasound technician, then you are promised a long and exciting career in a very diverse field. There are many paths for ultrasound technicians to follow, many of which are rather obscure. With that in mind, we’re going to examine the different types of technicians and what it is they do. These fields will sometimes overlap, but the work is essentially the same between them all, with the exception that specialization in a certain area means understanding the intricate details of scanning that particular region of the body.
The best way to become a sonographer or ultrasound technician is through a CAAHEP/JRC-DMS accredited program. Most universities and technical colleges offer an ultrasound technician program, the details of which can be discovered by contacting your local university and requesting details. An ultrasound technician must have attention to detail, as some procedures are done using parts of the spectrum that may be harmful. They must also understand physics, anatomy, physiology, and be skilled in communication. Over the course of schooling, an ultrasound technician will develop specific motor skills for the profession.
General and Specialized Sonography
General and specialized sonography is used to diagnose diseases and disorders of the tissues and organs of the body. By using sound waves, the sonographer forms an image of reflected audio waves that reveals any disorders or abnormalities within the body. This type of procedure is done only with written orders from a physician, and cannot be administered on a whim.
This is a type of ultrasound is used to study organs within the abdominal region such as the liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, and gallblader. This ultrasound is used to diagnose issues as minor as the cause of a kidney infection or stomachache to issues as severe as cancers and hernias. Often recommended after car accidents or blunt force trauma to the midsection, abdominal ultrasounds serve both exploratory and preventive purposes.
This type of ultrasound is specific to the breast region for both men and women. Commonly ordered by doctors after finding a lump in the breast during a standard check, or after finding abnormal mammogram results, this ultrasound can determine whether the abnormality is a cyst or a tumor, among other issues related to the breast. One of the most common ways of catching early onset breast cancer, breast ultrasounds help to prevent cancer and to remove cysts and lipomas.
This is a type of ultrasound procedure that focuses on the nervous system and the brain. Used to diagnose issues such as sickle cell anemia, brain tumors, and damage to the nervous system, this procedure is one of the more technical areas of sonography. Due to the delicate nature of the regions being examined, neurosonographers use different frequencies and beam shapes than those used for scanning the abdomen and breasts. This procedure can help to determine abnormalities in the shape of the brain, and is commonly performed on all infants as a preventive measure to raise awareness of any potential future issues.
Obstetric and Gynecological Ultrasounds
Perhaps the most commonly known type of ultrasound, this is the procedure that parents seek in order to get their first glimpses of their future children. However, the ultrasound also serves to examine the uterine region and check for issues. The infant’s heartbeat can be detected as early as seven weeks, which serves to determine the health of the fetus. This type of ultrasound can also determine the relative age of the fetus, if unknown, the size, and of course, the gender. Gynecological ultrasounds are used to check for any signs of malformation of the fetus, and should problems be detected, can help specialists prepare for any surgery that might be necessary.
This type of ultrasound is used to examine arteries and veins, as well as the heart. Commonly used to diagnose issues like aneuryms or blood clots. It is also used prior to surgery for planning purposes, and after surgery to guard against the formation of blood clots.
This type of ultrasound is used to identify problems within the musculoskeletal system, such as injuries to the soft tissue, tendons, or bones. Often used to investigate motion related injuries such as rotator cuff tears, carpal tunnel, and joint problems, this procedure can also be used to check for cancers in certain regions of the body. It is helpful in planning out rehabilitation processes for severely injured patients, and gives physicians an idea of how the bones and muscles are healing as the therapy progresses.
These are several types of ultrasound procedures, and each requires specialized training for the technician who performs them. It is possible to obtain certification to perform all of these procedures, and this often results in pay raises and a certain mount of job security. No matter which field interests you the most, or if you like all of them, there is something for everyone interested in working as a sonographer.