Ultrasound Technician

Ultrasound TechnicianWe’ve built this website from the ground up, to provide you with the vital information needed to answer your questions about being an ultrasound technician. Whether you’re thinking about starting a career in the area or just looking to find out more information about ultrasound and sonography, this website will either be able to provide it, or provide a link to a resource that can.

What is an Ultrasound Technician?

Put simply, they are a medical professional who uses a piece of equipment called a transducer to map a body’s internals and display this as an image which can then be used to help diagnose a patient. The transducer works by sending out ultrasound waves into the body and these then bounce back from any internal surfaces to the machine as echoes. Similar to a bats navigational method of echolocation, the machine measures the time it takes for these echoes to come back, which allows it to calculate the distance travelled and therefor build up an image on the screen.

While a large part of the job is operating this machine, a sonographer is also responsible for the maintenance of the machine, along with interpreting the images that are produced. This decision making is then passed onto the doctors involved with the patient in order to aid diagnosis. During this process the sonographer will also be involved with providing quality patient care, alongside maintaining patient records and providing accurate reports on any ultrasound scans undertaken. Due to these duties, ultrasound technicians need to have excellent communication and administrative skills, organizational and teamwork abilities are also a major advantage.

Sonographer Demand and Job Security

In the current world climate, we now have to think of more than just whether or not we like a job. Job security can have a massive impact on a person’s daily life, from happiness to taking out a mortgage, knowing your career has a future can be very satisfying and comforting. This is one of the things that make training to be an ultrasound technician such a great career choice.

While many understand that entering the field of medicine is a great career choice, not everyone understands the extent of opportunities available outside the generally thought of roles such as doctors and nurses. Literally hundreds of hospitals up and down the United States are now equipped with ultrasound machines, as the huge benefits of such devices are noticed across the medical field the need for these machines has seen a large upturn over the last few years. With an increased need for the machines comes obviously, a need for qualified technicians to operate them.

There are currently around 53,700 diagnostic medical sonographers operating in the United States. In fact the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has stated that the number of jobs available in the field is expected to rise by an astonishing 44% in the next 10 years. When compared to the statement that anything over 20% in this period is deemed to be a very favorable job outlook, it makes diagnostic medical sonography one of the fastest growing career paths in the entire American job market.

There are a few reasons behind this large increase, the first is a simple one, the costs surrounding ultrasound machines have decreased substantially in recent years, while most modern devices all use standard hardware, it is even possible to run an ultrasound machine on a standard desktop computer as long as it is equipped with the specialized software required. When you combine this with an increased desire by physicians to have access to sonograms to aid their diagnoses, and major technological innovations in the area such as 3 and 4D imaging techniques, you can understand why the area is approached with such enthusiasm.

3D and 4D imaging is useful in more than what is usually deemed the standard areas for ultrasound sonography, from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal and other advanced systems, sonographers who have a sharp eye and great ability to spot abnormalities are highly valued by physicians.

This is why the BLS has stated that around 23,400 ultrasound technician jobs will be made available by 2020. This increased upturn however is for qualified technicians with relevant experience in their specialized field and knowledge of the latest advancements in the area. Due to this, training can be on going throughout their career in order to keep up to date with new technologies such as 3D and 4D imaging. While general diagnostic medical sonographers will have no issue finding work in the future, it is these specialities that can provide not only higher income, but a better platform in the future for personal advancement in their career.

Specializations

Abdominal – Involved in the scanning of the soft tissues, organs and blood vessels found within the abdominal cavities, these include urinary tract, pancreas, kidneys, liver and spleen among others.

Breast – Used in the investigation and evaluation of abnormalities that have been discovered either with screening or diagnostic mammography. Most commonly thought of as a way to check for breast cancer, however is routinely used for other things such as monitoring blood flow.

Echocardiography – The assessment of the blood flow and anatomy of the heart, its valves and blood vessels. Echocardiography was one of the earliest uses for ultrasound.

Neurosonology - An assessment of the brain and spinal cord. Although they use the same equipment as other sonographers, the frequencies among other things are subtly different.

Obstetrics/Gynecology – One of the more commonly thought of uses for ultrasound, this includes scanning and keeping track of fetal growth and development alongside evaluating and diagnosing more general gynecological problems.

Ophthalmology – Investigation and evaluation of the eye and its surrounding muscles.

Vascular Technology – Assessment of the blood flow in the abdominal and peripheral blood vessels.

Work Environment

An average working week for an ultrasound technician is around 40 hours, this can include weekends. The job can also involve being on-call or being called into work at short notice due to emergencies. Although most sonographers work in hospitals, there is a large amount of growth in other sectors such as diagnostic laboratories or physician offices. Due to these work environments it is expected that all technicians are able to not only spend large periods of time on their feet, but also engage in lifting, pushing and bending down as required.

A Word from a Sonographer

Below is a video from a practicing ultrasound technician who talks more in depth about the daily activities and education requirements from experience.

Sonographer, career interview from drkit.org

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Why choose an ultrasound technician school?

Ultrasound Technician SchoolsLike any skilled profession it takes a lot of time and effort to learn the necessary skills in order to become proficient and qualified. Although sonographers have the opportunity to undergo some shorter courses (around 2 years) compared to some other medical careers, their career is no less skilled or important. So how can these programs teach sonography in these timespans and what are the benefits of learning at an offline or online ultrasound technician school?

What does a sonography school teach?

Well if I really wanted to write a short article, I could simply say it teaches people how to become an ultrasound technician and finish right here. However given that I can imagine a lynch mob with pitchforks charging my door and I quite enjoy the use of my legs I’ll explain further.

For anyone who has been researching into these schools you will have read that the first and most important part of your research is to find out if both the school and training program you are looking at is accredited. Although yes it is possible to become a technician without accreditation, the job prospects are far better for those which are accredited and this is one of the main ways you can easily increase your sonographer salary.

The actual course content that the program provides will vary between institutions however being accredited they will all cover the generalities that are needed in your future day to day work. This is one of the major benefits for this kind of program, although in other subjects education can be quite theoretical with little grounding in real world application it is not so for sonography training programs. Due in part to the time constraints they have cut the course to the essential training that is required to do your job efficiently, accurately and safely in a real world environment. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Human physiology and abnormalities.
  • How to use an ultrasound machine and maintain it
  • Scanning methods and techniques
  • Administration such as how to complete patient reports and medical records
  • Bedside manner and providing quality patient care

This is just a preliminary listing and if you look at any ultrasound technician college prospectus they will provide a far more detailed course structure and information such as in this video.

How can they fit all this sonography training into such a short timeframe?

Although there are short courses available, some for as little as one year, they are not all this length. It is possible to undergo a full degree program which takes 4 years and is another way to increase your earning potential in the future. This course is obviously more detailed and provides a far better overview of the subject than the shorter courses; however there are reasons why you can practice the same career with a shorter training time. The 1-2 year courses often require several prerequisites that can mean you do not start from scratch knowing nothing about medicine or biology. This allows the schools to cut out some of the beginner knowledge that might be included in longer courses.

The main reason is however that they are vocational courses with a period of internship at the end. Technically you could say that this is still included in any training programs length however I would disagree. The internship is a paid job opportunity where you will be essentially working in your chosen career path. The only difference from that and being fully qualified is that you will be watched by an experienced sonographer while practicing. This way of learning can be of great benefit to those who learn better while doing as opposed to sitting in lecture halls listening to theory rather than doing it with their hands. It is also of obvious benefit to those who want to change career path however need to pay the bills and so wish to get paid work as soon as possible.

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Pelvic Ultrasound Information

Pelvic ultrasound can be defined as the use of high-frequency ultrasonic waves to create pictures of the pelvic organs to aid diagnoses. These ultrasonic waves enter the body from an instrument called a transducer; when the waves hit an organ they are reflected by the internal structures and produce echoes which then return to the transducer. This data is then processed by a CPU which determines the distance travelled and creates the ultrasound image or sonogram.

When a patient complains about symptoms related to the pelvic region, the benefits and ease of ultrasound make it a natural choice in diagnoses. It is regularly in conjunction with a physical examination of the region in order to provide a more detailed overview which can be difficult to detect externally.transabdominal ultrasound

Uses

There are many reasons why a doctor may recommend a pelvic ultrasound for a patient however the procedure is most commonly used during pregnancy or as one of the steps in order to determine the reason for infertility. During pregnancy the ultrasound can detect a number of important attributes which if left could cause complications. This enables healthcare to be proactive and solve or treat issues with pregnancies before they become too serious. Besides the medical benefits it has been proven that engaging mothers with the ultrasound procedure during pregnancy greatly improves maternal bonding, and as such ultrasound is often looked upon with excitement for mothers some even booking extra ultrasound procedures in order to obtain 3D images of their baby.

Some of the things that ultrasound can detect during initial stages of pregnancy are:

  • Size of the fetus and ascertain estimated due date
  • Discover multiple fetuses
  • Determine if the fetus is alive (viable)
  • Distinguish between intrauterine and ectopic pregnancy

During the later stages of pregnancy ultrasound can also aid with:

  • Measuring fetal growth
  • Ascertain any abnormalities in the anatomy
  • Look at the amniotic fluid and placenta

Applying ultrasound to the pelvis can establish many things about the body; it can determine the size and shape of various organs within the pelvis such as the bladder and can help aid diagnoses with regards to bladder dysfunction. It also has the ability to discover:

  • Inflammation
  • Cysts
  •  Tumors
  •  Free fluid

Although generally ultrasound is taken with the transducer placed on the patient’s abdomen there have been advances in technology within this area that allow more specialized equipment to be used in other places in order to obtain clearer images within the pelvis. The transducer has been altered in order for it to be able to be placed within a women’s vagina in order to provide brighter sonograms, named transvaginal ultrasound it is useful for scans during very early pregnancy. Recent legislation in the US has also made these compulsory in some states in order to obtain a termination. Similarly men can have a probe inserted rectally called transrectal ultrasound which is regularly used to scan the prostate.

What to do before a pelvic ultrasound examination?

To prepare for a pelvic ultrasound the patient is normally required to drink several glasses of water 1-2 hours before their appointment is due and to avoid urinating if at all possible until the sonogram is completed. Toilets are normally located very near to the scanning booth and some discomfort can be experienced during this time.

The reason this is asked is because when the bladder is full it forms a path or “acoustic window” for the ultrasonic waves to pass though, leading to clearer images for the ultrasound technician. Patients are normally instructed if this drinking is necessary, however if unsure it is better to err on the side of caution and drink the water; it is a lot easier to empty your bladder if unnecessary than to sit in the waiting room for an hour drinking water to fill your bladder.

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Ultrasound Developed to Help Fight Cancer

blood vessel ultrasoundCancer affects an astonishing 40% of people according to Macmillan Cancer Support, as such there are few people that have not either been affected by it or had someone close to them affected. Research from the University of North Carolina has developed a new technique shown to aid in early detection of cancer utilizing ultrasonic waves. This adds another string to the bow of ultrasound technicians and will further help grow the industry as a whole in the years to come, which can only be good news for those wishing to provide quality patient care.

Throughout a person’s body their blood vessels snake through them in a manner that from a distance resembles the twists and turns of a river looked at from above. It has been discovered however that this blood vessel tortuosity or “bendiness” can actually be a sign of the presence and progression of cancer in a patient.

What the researcher’s at UNC have developed is a method of high-resolution ultrasound imaging that can map out these inner blood vessels and then ultrasound technicians can detect blood vessel abnormality from the resulting pictures; this technique has been used in order to identify early tumors in preclinical studies. Although still early days for the research this is an exciting proposition due to the non-invasive nature of it, while being potentially accurate enough to detect tumors less than a centimeter in size. Given that early detection of cancer carries such benefits with regards to how beneficial treatment is, this research could potentially save thousands of lives.

Paul Dayton, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering and part of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center further supports this idea by saying, “The correlation between vessel tortuosity and cancer is well-established. What’s new about our finding is that we can visualize these vessels in minutes with a very quick scan, using very inexpensive imaging methods.”

This new high quality ultrasound imaging has been termed “acoustic angiography”; it utilizes an intravascular contrast agent that enables the technicians to create sonograms of only the blood vessels. Unlike the more regularly used 2D ultrasound frequently used in obstetrics to detect fetal growth, this ultrasound manages to filter out any data that represents tissue thus enabling them to view the inner blood vessels clearly.

Dayton goes onto say “Our results showed a definitive difference between vessels within and surrounding tumors versus those associated with normal healthy vasculature. The limitation that we must now address is that our method works only for tumors at a shallow depth into tissue, such as melanomas or thyroid cancer. Our next studies will focus on this imaging-depth issue as well as evaluating the ability of this technology to determine a tumor’s response to therapy.”

“We know from several clinical and preclinical MRI studies at UNC by Elizabeth Bullitt, MD, and others, and at other institutions that vessels can unbend, or “normalize,” in response to effective therapy. We need to see if our inexpensive ultrasound-based method of blood vessel visualization and tortuosity analysis can detect this normalization prior to conventional assessments of tumor response to therapy, such as measurements of tumor size.”

This is clearly a great step forward in the war against cancer, it is rare that such potential detection methods are produced that are not only fast and non-invasive, but also require no exposure to radiation and are therefore safe for everyone.

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Source : www.medindia.net

 

Portable Ultrasound

portable ultrasound machineMany people know about and have experienced the normally fairly large, console style ultrasound machines that are generally used by ultrasound technicians for uses such as 3d ultrasound scans. While these machines had great potential for many uses, their bulky nature and weight limited them to specific circumstances in controlled conditions such as hospitals.

Portable ultrasound machines alleviated a lot of these issues and while they do have their own innate drawbacks have opened up a lot of new treatment opportunities. The first ultrasound machines that were portable were developed as early as the 1980’s however they only became truly portable and battery powered towards the end of the 1990’s.

This opened up an amazing array of avenues for them to be used in specialist situations where:

  • There is limited space
  • Ease of mobility is a necessary requirement
  • Scanning must be done in the field.

Portable ultrasound machines are even still regularly used in hospitals alongside the normal larger machines. They are routinely used in emergency rooms to aid in first point of contact diagnosis where speed, efficiency and accuracy are vital to treat the incoming patients. This is all part of the FAST scan or Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma which is a screening test to check for free fluid in a patient’s body that can result from trauma, such as blood around the heart. There is also an eFAST or extended FAST exam which also allows for the examination of both lungs in similar circumstances.

The advantages of this are that unlike similar methods to check for this fluid the FAST scan is a not invasive and doesn’t expose the patient to any radiation. Due to the fact that this is a rapid bedside ultrasound examination it also speeds up the potential diagnosis in the emergency rooms and can cut down on potential bottlenecks.

Unusual Environments

The mobile ultrasound machines have also been put to use in rugged environments far removed from any hospital. The military has been using these machines for several years now, but since 2007 even Special Forces units have been increasing the amount of them that they make available in the field. While the military has access to x-ray and ultrasound systems for a while, an x-ray machine takes up one third of a Chinook helicopter to transport to a fire base where the ultrasound machines can fit into a standard-size medical aid bag and weigh just a few pounds.

Manufacturers are not in the dark with regards to this new potential for their devices and have now made several models designed for these rugged environments where it can be subject to strong impacts and shocks.

Future Advances

The machines mentioned above are all self-contained ultrasound machines that can be used individually with no connection or reliance on other services. There have been other developments however that rely on 3G and 4G networks in order to process the ultrasound. In these situations they used a device the size of a cell phone to emit the ultrasonic waves; however the collected data is then transmitted over the 3G connection to a central processing centre. This not only cuts down on the size of the portable device that needs to be carried, but it also cuts down the cost of the necessary equipment and allows the ultrasound technician to focus simply on scanning efficiently while knowing that the image analysis is still being expertly monitored.

While ultrasound is already a hugely useful invention, with innovations in mobilizing the technology while also making the equipment cheaper, it shows a bright future for the industry as a whole where more people can gain access to the technology in ever more remote places.

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Ultrasound Treatment for Osteoporosis Discovered

Ultrasound Research

Dr. Yi-Xian Qin, and Department of Biomedical Engineering graduate student, Jordan Rustad, look at evidence of changes in bone-forming cells as a result of exposure to ultrasound.

At Stony Brook University in New York research is being led by Yi-Xian Qin, PhD and Professor into a potentially revolutionary new treatment for osteoporosis, fractures and other related issues that involve bone loss. Currently the only treatments for these issues either involve waiting for the patient’s body to heal naturally, or using pharmacological drug treatments to help ease the problem. This could all change now that they have evidence suggesting that medium-density focused ultrasound can have beneficial effects in this area, potentially being one of the biggest developments in the area since 3D ultrasound.

The technique revolves around focusing these ultrasonic waves on osteoblasts, these are more commonly known as bone-forming cells. When these osteoblasts are stimulated with ultrasound they consistently experience increase mobility and triggers the release of calcium which in turn promotes growth.

Stony Brook University states that musculoskeletal tissues, like bone and muscle, respond to significant stimuli such as exercise. This is to maintain the tissues natural state of dynamic equilibrium in response to mechanical loading. Realizing this opportunity the researchers decided to test how osteoblasts would respond to other mechanical signals such as ultrasound. The research team developed a new innovative method to apply the ultrasound which they call acoustic radiation force (ARF); they expose the osteoblasts to one minute of this radiation and then try to observe any reaction. What they repeatedly found was that through the use of the ARF focused ultrasound beam they had induced cellular cytoskeletal rearrangement, the motility and mobility of the cells, and accelerated intracellular calcium transportations and concentrations.

This is an exciting development in the field due to the comparative nature of the treatment; the opportunity to develop a none invasive and drug free ultrasonic procedure which has the potential to cause little to no side effects has obvious advantages, as this is something that even the mildest drug can sometimes have problems with.

Dr. Qin is also involved with other research projects, previous findings of his has led to the creation of an ultrasound machine designed to specifically scan bones and is far more advanced than the current ultrasound technology in the area as it assesses bone parameters beyond simple mineral density. This machine was initially invented to act as a diagnostic tool to help predict early bone loss, with the discovery of the effects of ARF, they are now looking to combine the two technologies in order to build a device that can first predict and identify bone loss or fractures, and then provide ARF treatment to the affected area in order to promote growth and healing.

The more that scientists study ultrasound the more benefits and uses for it are being discovered. It still amazes me personally that simple sound waves can have such an effect on us as people, especially when it is normally thought of as a method of seeing, not healing. It is studies such as this that go to show what a bright future ultrasound has in our world and the exciting times that people who enter the industry will experience.

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Source: Stony Brook University

Dr Who the Ultrasound Technician

dr who sonic screwdriverAt least that is what scientists are beginning to suggest with some of their latest inventions. Many people across the world have wished for Sci-Fi technology to become a reality, lightsabers, hover boots maybe even a sonic screwdriver. The last item on the list is seemingly one step closer to reality thanks to researchers at Dundee University. In our previous articles we have noted that the area of ultrasound is one of the fastest growing in the world as more people not only realize the potential currently, but also understand the advancements in the area that can be made.

First announced in a press release it may be a bit of poetic license to try and call it a sonic screwdriver, however the potential for this technology is just as exciting and does provide evidence for the future creation of such a device even though this is currently just in the prototype design stages. The basic equipment came from a MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery machine and was repurposed so it can lift and spin a free floating 10 cm diameter rubber disk with a focused ultrasound beam.

While this may not seem at first glance to be that useful there is a reason why this research is generating such excitement among the ultrasound community. Dr Mike MacDonald, of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSAT) at Dundee explains

“This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells,”

From my point of view it is the last part of this quote which holds most significance, imagine being able to control an object inside a person’s body and the possible applications ultrasound technicians could use this for. Send a drug directly through a person’s body laser targeted right to where it can be of the most benefit or perhaps even sending small cameras through a patient’s body to aid diagnosis without needing exploratory surgery.

When I first heard about this story I assumed they used the ultrasound based on a similar principle to that of 3D ultrasound albeit amplified in strength. However the ultrasound is actually focused into a beam utilizing a ‘double-helix’ structure which is the 2 bar twisting structure of our DNA. They have also demonstrated that by twisting many of these double-helix beams into 1 singular focused beam it has enough power behind it to lift and spin a 90g disk which had been placed in water (video below).

the Real Sonic Screwdriver

It’s worth remembering that this is a large scale demonstration model and that any finished medical product would be far more refined in its control. As Dr MacDonald says “Like Dr Who’s own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around. It is an area that has great potential for developing new surgical techniques, among other applications, something which Dundee is very much at the forefront of.”

This technology was developed as part of a UK-wide Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) project as well as being funded through part of an EU Nanoporation project. Here at modern ultrasound technician we are interested in what our readers think, do you think research such as this is as important as we do? Do you believe that this technology could have entertainment or commercial uses besides its perceived medical applications? Perhaps this could be used to give us our much loved hover boards or bring to life the next generation of thrill seeking rollercoaster rides? If you have other ideas let us know in the comments below!

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Source: FutureofTech.msn

Ultrasound Technician FAQ

As we are growing as a website we are noticing an ever increasing trend in the queries people are searching for and the answers they need from our site. We will be producing a series of informational FAQs in an attempt to answer these questions as succinctly as possible. We will be segregating the FAQs into different topics each aimed at an alternative segment of our audience. All of these FAQs will be available on our homepage

The below questions are for people interested in becoming an ultrasound technician as a career path, and want to find out more information to decide if it’s the right choice for them.

How long does it take to qualify to become an ultrasound technician?

The time that it takes to qualify as an ultrasound technician is relatively short compared to other medical careers. There are some courses that are as short as 1-2 years, with the Bachelor’s Degree program being a 4 year course.

The shorter courses are followed by a period of internship, but you could be earning a full time wage in as little as 2 years depending on previous experience and prerequisites.

How much does an ultrasound technician earn?

The average wage for a sonographer currently is around $63,000 a year. This can vary wildly depending on where in the county you are located and how experienced the sonographer is. An ultrasound technicians salary can increase to $90,000 in some cases.

The amount per hour a technician can earn fluctuates depending on circumstances, as it is not unusual for a technician to be on call or called in at short notice these situations do pay at a higher rate.

What is the job outlook like for sonographers given the current economic climate?

Everyone knows that medical careers are great opportunities; becoming an ultrasound technician is no different in this regard in fact even comparatively it offers exceptional potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that diagnostic medical sonography offers a “highly favorable” outlook of 44% growth in jobs between the years 2010 and 2020. As 20% growth is deemed to be favorable, it shows sonography to be one of the fastest growing sectors of any industry in the US.

What is an average day for an ultrasound sonographer?

Sonographers have days with varied duties, they are involved with the scanning of patients, making decisions on any abnormalities that may be discovered during these scans and giving their opinion on these to the physician. Technicians are also involved in maintenance of the ultrasound machine, alongside the write up of patient reports for physicians and upkeep of patient records. It is also common for sonographers to be involved in image archiving and some even take on managerial responsibilities.

What preparation can I do now, to help me study ultrasonography later?

Some of the most useful subjects to study prior to medical sonography are biology, physics and math. All of these are used on a daily basis as an ultrasound technician and you will find the learning curve a lot smoother if you have a strong background here.

What should I look for when researching ultrasound technician schools?

The choice of schools covering the topic of medical ultrasonography is massive and growing rapidly. This is partly down to the growing popularity and potential for the career, it can however make it difficult to choose which one is the best ultrasound technician school for you. This choice is largely subjective, everyone will have different opinions and needs so the best school will differ between people.

The most important aspect to look for though, is that both the course and school are accredited. While it is possible to qualify as a sonographer on an unaccredited course, the job opportunities and pay grades are much better for accredited students. As such although though these courses often cost more than their unaccredited counterparts, it is money well spent.

Medical Uses for Ultrasound

cardiology ultrasound machine Ultrasound technicians are involved in many different areas of medicine. While the most commonly thought of use for sonography is that of obstetrics and pregnancy, ultrasound especially 3D and 4D ultrasound has many different uses.

If you’re new to this website we explain what ultrasound is and some background to the area in our article diagnostic medical sonography, this article will assume a basic knowledge of what ultrasound is and instead focus on providing an overview of these uses and procedures.

What is ultrasound used for?

Anesthesiology

One of the rarely thought of but commonly used uses is during anesthesia. At this time ultrasound is routinely used in order to guide the injecting needle when it is necessary to place a local anesthetic in close proximity to nerves.

echocardiogramCardiology

The use of ultrasonography during cardiology is called echocardiography. This is regularly used to view the heart in order to diagnose abnormalities. Echocardiography can determine many heart issues from investigating if the heart is formed and functioning properly, checking for dilation in any part of the heart and can even assess blood velocity when using Doppler ultrasound.

Emergency Medicine

Ultrasound is routinely used to aid diagnoses at the first point of care. In situations such as these where speed, accuracy and efficiency save lives, ultrasound is used in many situations including the Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) exam. As the name implies this is a rapid examination that can be done at a bedside. The aim to screen for internal bleeding such as around the heart (pericardial tamponade) or other abdominal organs (hemoperitoneum) which can result after a patient has suffered trauma.

portable ultrasound scannerThere is also an extended FAST or eFAST exam which utilizes sonography in the examination of both lungs. This bedside detection procedure has many advantages, most significant of which is that while other scanning procedures can often detect these issues, the swift and accurate ultrasound scans enable the quick response that is needed in these situations, especially when waiting to perform the lengthier scans can enable other serious complications to develop when not caught immediately.

Ultrasonography is also regularly used in the emergency department to hasten the treatment of patients who suffer from upper right quadrant abdominal pain which may result from cholecystitis or gallstones.

Gastroenterology

During this abdominal ultrasonography the organs in the abdomen are imaged e.g. Spleen, aorta, inferior vena cava, pancreas, gall bladder, bile ducts and kidneys. The appendix can sometimes be added to this list, but only when inflamed by such issues as appendicitis. Ultrasound technicians have a complicated job in this area; sound waves are often attenuated by fat or even blocked completely by gas contained within the bowel. Due to this the diagnostic capabilities for gastroenterology have a limited impact.

Neonatology

The skull generally provides a virtually impenetrable barrier for ultrasound, however with an infant the soft area of the skull (Fontanelle) does allow for ultrasonic waves to penetrate for a short while, until these close at around 1 year old. This allows for the analysis of intracerebral structural abnormalities, bleeds, ventriculomegaly or hydrocephalus and anoxic insults.

Urology

This has many uses, one of which is to discover the amount of fluid a patient retains in their bladder. Pelvic sonograms also cover the uterus and ovaries, or prostate and testicles for males. Ultrasound scans in this area can either be done externally or internally, transvaginally for females or transrectally for males. Scans in this area are used for different purposes but can be used to distinguish between benign testicular masses and testicular cancer.

Musculoskeletal

This is the use of sonography to look at tendons, muscles, ligaments, bone surfaces, nerves, and soft tissue masses.

This is just a selection of some of the areas that an ultrasound technician gets involved in. With technological innovations such as 3D and 4D ultrasound alongside improvements in the brightness and clarity of the images themselves, new uses and procedures are still being thought of. This is why ultrasound technicians need to undergo regular training in order to make sure they are up to date with the latest advancements and techniques.

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Ultrasound News, Website updates and more

New Ultrasound Detects Heart Problems in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

echocardiogramRecent studies have shown that a new type of ultrasound called “speckle-tracking echocardiography” can detect potentially fatal heart abnormalities in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

During a meeting in Berlin the researchers from the Mayo Clinic, USA proposed that their technique of speckle-tracking echocardiography shows itself to be a promising method of screening rheumatoid arthritis patients for cardiovascular disease. Allegedly the current tools used to screen patients underestimate the risk they face and so these new more accurate methods could provide real measurable benefits for patient care.

Studies in this area can be particularly tricky to research, Dr Gabriel when talking about their investigation said

“”The challenge that we’ve had in our studies, and other people have had as well, is identifying patients with rheumatoid arthritis early enough so that we can intervene, before the symptoms become clinically apparent.”

Here at modern ultrasound technician we love nothing more than a new research paper or procedure to get our teeth stuck into. While this technique is still in its infancy stages, the research does show promise in the future for a more accurate and effective method of risk assessment for patients in the future, and in our eyes this is one step on the right path for better patient care in the future.

Source: Medical News Today

One-Way Acoustic Diode Paves Way to Higher Quality Ultrasound Imaging

One Way Acoustic Diode

Diagram demonstrating the input/output of the diode.

Over the years ultrasound has come on leaps and bounds in terms of quality of pictures, and technological advancements such as 3D and 4D ultrasound. While ultrasound can provide massive advantages due to it using harmless sound waves instead of the more radioactive materials, it also has weaknesses due to the same reasons.

As anyone who has ever shouted in a large room knows, echoes can produce anomalous readings and interference. While ultrasound relies on these ultrasonic echoes to produce a sonogram the incoming echoes can produce interference with the outgoing sound waves and therefor lower image brightness and resolution. If a method could be found to keep these incoming and outgoing sounds separate, it would help greatly improve the quality of an ultrasound picture.

Scientist Jian-chun Cheng of China’s Nanjing University described at the Acoustics 2012 meeting in Hong Kong the advancements in this area his team have been making. They have created what they call a one way acoustic diode that works similarly to an electric diode. An electric diode works by providing zero resistance to the electric current in one direction, with very high resistance in the other direction, this produces a unidirectional electrical flow and helps protect against sudden damaging reverses in flow.

While an ultrasound diode cannot work off a similar principle, sound has the same resistance traveling both too and from a source, the effect is the same. The acoustic diode works by increasing the frequency of sound entering the diode in a certain direction, then putting a material in the way that only allows sound through of a high enough frequency. This allows the higher frequency sound to pass through, while any returning sound which has lowered in frequency cannot pass through the filter material.

As Liang explains “if the sound comes from the side of the nonlinear material, it will hit that material first, creating doubled frequency sound that passes through the filter, while any sound coming from the other side at the original frequency is blocked before it reaches the doubling layer.”

This truly is an innovative approach to the problem, while many people can get stuck in the details of a problem, it is the simple outside of the box developments like this that are providing real noticeable change in the ultrasound industry and providing the technological advancement our health care system, and patients deserve.

Source: Science Daily

Pregnant Panda Undergoes Ultrasound Scan

PandaNo news roundup would be complete without a true “aw” story and we would not let our readers down in such a way. More than 10 pandas are currently undergoing ultrasound at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Centre in southwest China.

Pandas are notoriously difficult to breed; which, given their endangered species status is of high priority. Female pandas are only fertile for 2-3 days a year, so it was with much joy the Centre reported the 10 successful mating pairs. Pandas are generally pregnant 85-100 days before giving birth and the ultrasound is still being used to check the health of the mothers to be. Unfortunately the ultrasound did find complications with one mother, who is now undergoing further medical treatment.

With only around 1600 giant pandas remaining in the wild, our best wishes go out to the proud panda mums in china. If you’d like to find out more about human development and how we view the different stages through ultrasound, please read our recent article on ultrasound during pregnancy

Source:BBC News

Website Updates

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Top 10 Reasons to Become an Ultrasound Technician (Part 2)

Ultrasound Throat ScanThis is the 2nd of a 2 part mini-series of the top 10 reasons to become an ultrasound technician. If you are new to the series and would like to read the whole article please read part 1 first.

As talked about in our previous post, we deem becoming an ultrasound technician one of the best career choices you can currently make. We went over the salary benefits, job security advantages and personal fulfillment reasons that make this career path a great one to explore; however we had a difficult time choosing between just 5 points. Due to this we have this 2nd part of the article that allows us to expand and explain some other interesting facets of the job.

6. Work in an innovative environment of constantly evolving opportunities

If variety is the spice of life, sonographers must work in a curry house. The job itself relies on cutting edge technology, and as with anything related to technology, it is rapidly evolving and improving both in terms of equipment and technical procedures. As seen with the invention of <a href=”http://modernultrasoundtechnician.com/3d-and-4d-ultrasound/”>3 and 4 dimensional ultrasound</a>, these new procedures can provide extensive advantages even beyond better diagnosis.

It has been repeatedly proven for instance that providing mothers with a 3D ultrasound can actually aid bonding between parent and child. While new uses for these technologies are still being thought of, other innovative ideas are already moving forwards.

For instance recently mobile phones have been used as part of a remote ultrasound scanning package where, miles from any hospital or laboratory, sonographers were able to scan a patient and send the information back to a central processing hub for examination. There are many advantages for technology such as this, from lowering the cost of equipment to simply enabling easier scanning, as the sonographer can focus on the patient scan without having to worry about identifying issues on the image simultaneously.

As with any rapidly advancing career, it is highly important that a sonographer undergoes regular ultrasound training programs in order to stay up to date with the latest procedures and advances in order to provide the best quality patient care. If you love learning new things, this job will provide just the solution to scratch that itch.

7. Keep fit

One quite surprising advantage of becoming an ultrasound technician is that you get to stay in shape. It is not something that most people would associate with a sonographer, getting a lot of exercise at work, but it is a key component of the sonography role. In fact in the course guidance given to anyone investigating studying in the area, the prerequisites are listed as needing to lift 50 pounds routinely, push and pull the ultrasound machine, help patients onto and off examination table, have full use of both hands and be able to bend and stoop.

If the idea of sitting at an office desk doesn’t appeal to you as you like to keep active and exercise to keep fit, you can happily tick that off your check list.

8. Choice of specializations

During training and throughout a career, a sonographer will focus on one of several specializations. They do this so that the training they receive can be more detailed and in depth about that region of the body, so that the technician doesn’t miss anything that could be important during a scan. Due to the high level of responsibility associated with sonography it is a strategic choice they make not to be a jack of all trades.

This specialization is a personal choice and it is recommended that each student chooses the one they feel most attracted to, and suits their individual style. The specializations vary across the entire breadth of the human body, from the brain and neurosonology to abdominal and obstetrics (pregnancy) alongside many more. We have more detailed information on the different specializations available in an earlier post.

It is never nice to feel pressured or forced into a certain area or aspect of a career that you do not like or are uncomfortable with. This choice allows the sonographer as an individual to stay in charge of their own career path and future, which for us is a very big plus.

9. Great opportunity for advancement

The promotion prospects in the area of sonography are great. We have already discussed the expected growth in the industry until the year 2020. Growth creates more jobs, and more people to manage. It is not unusual for experienced sonographers to advance and take on managerial responsibilities. In fact due to the desire for hospitals and physician offices to keep hold of good sonographers, they realize that providing a route for ambitious workers is a necessity.

10. Flexible path to qualify

Diagnostic medical sonography is a great path to take if you would like to enter a medical career, but dislike the standard idea of studying for 4-6 years to attain certification. The route for an ultrasound technician can vary from a relatively short 1-2 year course up to 4 years to obtain a full Bachelor’s Degree.

While this can seem to contradict my earlier statements about the complex and highly skilled, responsible job that this is, it’s because these courses are designed to be a more vocational training. They have been distilled down so they teach you current, active, modern procedures and techniques that you will use on a daily basis. These are not theoretical courses that you may never use again.

After the initial training it is usual to undergo an internship for 1-2 years so that you can gain paid direct word experience training under the eye of a currently practicing sonographer. You can read more about this subject on one of our previous articles.

That completes our 10 top reasons to become an ultrasound technician. Although I can’t promise not to get excited over this subject again and post a few more reasons one day…

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