Ultrasound and the Role of the Sonographer
Ultrasound is an imaging modality, which uses high frequency sound waves to produce images for diagnosis. Ultrasound can be used for diagnosis in obstetrics, gynecology, general abdomen, breast, vascular, interventional, intraoperative, ophthalmic, musculoskeletal, and cardiology.
The profession requires good judgment and the ability to provide appropriate health care services. Sonographers are highly skilled professionals, who need to possess the ability to work independently, make decisions that could affect a patient’s health, be able to work under pressure with associated time constraints, use discretion in the performance of non-invasive and invasive exams, and have the ability to recall an abundance of information to suggest a diagnosis or further evaluation. Sonographers provide the physician with the appropriate history, anatomic, pathologic, and physiologic data to arrive at this diagnosis. The exam results are 100% dependent on the sonographer’s ability to obtain the appropriate images. The sonographer is solely responsible for obtaining the images that will demonstrate pathologic findings, since the machine does not automatically acquire images.
Typically, the sonographer is the only medical professional in contact with the patient, so in-depth knowledge, as well as professionalism, are key to a positive patient experience. A thorough understanding of physics, anatomy, physiology, pathology, and cross-sectional anatomy is necessary to acquire competency in the field, which is demonstrated by the completion of national registry exams.