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Career Guide: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Career Guide: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Diagnostic medical sonographers may specialize in obstetric and gynecologic sonography (the female reproductive system), abdominal sonography (the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas), neurosonography (the brain), or breast sonography. In addition, sonographers may specialize in vascular sonography or cardiac sonography. (Vascular sonographers and cardiac sonographers are covered in the Handbook statement on cardiovascular technologists and technicians.)

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Obstetric and Gynecologic Sonographers

Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in the imaging of the female reproductive system. Included in the discipline is one of the more well-known uses of sonography: examining the fetus of a pregnant woman to track the baby’s growth and health.

Abdominal Sonographers

Abdominal sonographers inspect a patient’s abdominal cavity to help diagnose and treat conditions primarily involving the gallbladder, bile ducts, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen, and male reproductive system. Abdominal sonographers also are able to scan parts of the chest, although studies of the heart using sonography usually are done by echocardiographers.

Neurosonographers

Neurosonographers focus on the nervous system, including the brain. In neonatal care, neurosonographers study and diagnose neurological and nervous system disorders in premature infants. They also may scan blood vessels to check for abnormalities indicating a stroke in infants diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia. Like other sonographers, neurosonographers operate transducers to perform the sonogram, but use frequencies and beam shapes different from those used by obstetric and abdominal sonographers.

Breast sonographers

Breast sonographers use sonography to study diseases of the breasts. Sonography aids mammography in the detection of breast cancer. Breast sonography can also track tumors, blood supply conditions, and assist in the accurate biopsy of breast tissue. Breast sonographers use high-frequency transducers, made exclusively to study breast tissue.

Work Environment

Sonographers typically work in health care facilities that are clean. They usually work at diagnostic imaging machines in darkened rooms, but also may perform procedures at patients’ bedsides. Sonographers may be on their feet for long periods of time and may have to lift or turn disabled patients. In addition, the nature of their work can put sonographers at an increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders such as carpel tunnel syndrome, neck and back strain, and eye strain: however, greater use of ergonomic equipment and an increasing awareness will continue to minimize such risks

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