Diagnostic Medical Sonography

AWARD OFFERED Associate in Applied Science

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Sonography, or ultrasonography, is the use of sound waves to generate an image for the assessment and diagnosis of various medical conditions. Sonography is usually associated with obstetrics and the use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancy, but this technology has many other applications in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

Diagnostic medical sonographers use special equipment to direct non-ionizing, high frequency sound waves into areas of the patient’s body. Sonographers operate the equipment, which collects reflected echoes and forms an image that may be videotaped, transmitted, or photographed for interpretation and diagnosis by a physician.

To perform the exam, sonographers use a transducer, which transmits sound waves in a cone- or rectangle-shaped beam. Although techniques vary with the area being examined, sonographers usually spread a special gel on the skin to aid the transmission of sound waves.

Viewing the screen during the scan, sonographers look for subtle visual cues that contrast healthy areas with unhealthy ones. They decide whether the images are satisfactory for diagnostic purposes and select which ones to show to the physician. Sonographers take measurements, calculate values, and analyze the results in preliminary reports for the physicians.

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 technology or echocardiography.

Employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to grow through 2014 as the population grows and ages, increasing the demand for diagnostic imaging and therapeutic technology. Opportunities should be favorable because sonography is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to radiologic procedures, as patients seek alternate treatment methods.

Median annual earnings of diagnostic medical sonographers were $78,520 according to the SDMS Sonographer Salary & Benefits Survey (2012).


April Sutherland, Program Director