Diagnostic Medical Sonography Introduction to the field
Diagnostic medical sonography is a medical imaging modality that uses reflected sound waves to create images for diagnostic medical purposes. This process uses the reflected echoes or sound waves aimed at the body to generate visual data that a physician can use to diagnose health conditions and make medical decisions regarding treatment and steps to take.
One advantage of this type of imaging is that it can generate real time moving images and films rather than just snapshots. This can be helpful in getting an ongoing picture and in probing areas to easily focus on areas of interest.
There are a number of different medical categories in which diagnostic medical sonography is primarily used. Some of the main ones are as follows:
Obstetrics and Gynecology
One of the most common applications of sonography, and one that people often associate with the field in general, is in obstetrics and gynecology. Being relatively noninvasive and safe, ultrasound is often used to monitor the development of the fetus in the womb. This is both for diagnostic purposes and for simple information gathering. For instance people may be curious as to what the sex of their baby will be or want prenatal pictures of a child. This type of imaging is also used in gynecology generally to take images of the female reproductive system. It wouldn’t be safe to subject these sensitive areas to ionizing radiation, such as in the case of x-rays, so sonography is the imaging method most commonly used for obstetric and gynecological purposes.
Cardiology is another area where diagnostic medical sonography is often used. Often called echocardiography, this type of imaging is used to diagnose heart problems through the imaging process. There are many ailments that can be diagnosed this way. Again, subjecting the heart to ionizing radiation or high intensity magnetic fields can prove hazardous, so sonography is a method often utilized.
Muscular and Skeletal Imaging
Fractured, torn, sprained, or otherwise injured muscles and bones show up quite clearly in diagnostic medical sonography imaging procedures. Though x-rays are also commonly used in these cases,
This type of ultrasound looks at (images) bone and muscle to assess health or disease. This can be useful for bone fractures, muscular tears and sprains, and the like. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, bone surfaces, and soft tissue can all be viewed and explored this way.
The male reproductive system can also be looked at using diagnostic medical sonography without subjecting the area to radiation or high intensity electromagnetic fields. It is, as in the other cases, important to protect the testes, prostate, and other areas of the male reproductive system from the hazards of these other imagine modalities.
Diagnostic medical sonography has applications in emergency care situations as well. Due to the fact that it can quickly give real time images and is also relatively safe, it can be quickly employed to get vital information about injuries and sudden medical crises.
Most people that go into this career field get either Associate’s (i.e. 2 year) or Bachelor’s (i.e. four year) degrees. Usually 2 year degrees are the most prevalent as an educational level. There are 1 year certificate programs as well, but these are somewhat less common. Being a skilled field, receiving at least 2 years of education tends to be the norm.
Certification as a diagnostic medical sonographer is mainly done through an organization called the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), though there are other organizations that also certify sonographers. This organization gives certification exams and passing these exams enables the student to be awarded the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) title. Certification looks good on a resume, opening up employment possibilities, and is a good general career move.
Becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer requires fairly moderate education and it can be very financially rewarding. This is an interesting career from both a health and a technical perspective. It allows individuals with at least some technical aptitude to get into a health field relatively quickly and easily.