imaging embraces several procedures that aid in diagnosing ailments. The
most familiar procedures are the x-ray and the magnetic resonance
imaging; however, not all imaging technologies use ionizing radiation or
radio waves. Sonography, or ultrasonography, is the use of sound waves
to generate an image for the assessment and diagnosis of various medical
Sonography commonly is 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
throughout the body.
Diagnostic medical sonographers use special equipment to direct
nonionizing, 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.
Sonographers begin by explaining the procedure to the patient and
recording any medical history that may be relevant to the condition
being viewed. They then select appropriate equipment settings and direct
the patient to move into positions that will provide the best view. 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.
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
store and show to the physician. Sonographers take measurements,
calculate values, and analyze the results in preliminary findings for
In addition to working directly with patients, diagnostic medical
sonographers keep patient records and adjust and maintain equipment.
They also may prepare work schedules, evaluate equipment purchases, or
manage a sonography or diagnostic imaging department.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.