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What Is a Cardiac Sonographer?

Cardiac sonographers take ultrasounds of human hearts and cardiovascular systems.
Cardiac ultrasounds use sound waves to monitor the condition of a patient's organs.
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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 June 2014
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A cardiac sonographer, also often called an echocardiographer or cardiac ultrasound technologist, is a medical professional whose specialty is taking ultrasound images of human hearts and cardiovascular systems. He normally works alone in performing the procedure and recording the results. His job is commonly carried out in a medical setting such as a clinic, hospital or doctor’s office.

Ultrasound imaging is often referred to as a sonogram. It is achieved through bouncing high-frequency sounds waves off an organ or tissues to be evaluated. The procedure enables a cardiac sonographer to record images that typically reveal the beats and movements of the heart and the size and configuration of its chambers. He can usually evaluate how evenly and quickly the patient’s blood flows to the heart valves. Any cardiac muscular irregularities or deterioration are generally revealed in a sonogram of the heart.

Before a cardiac sonographer performs his job, he normally confers with the doctor to confirm what cardiovascular areas should be concentrated on when he sets up the sonogram. Once he determines this, he customarily readies his equipment and sets the switches and dials. The sonographer then usually meets with the patient to explain the procedure and answer any related questions.

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To get a clear image of the heart and cardiovascular system, the sonographer normally places probes at several locations on the patient’s upper body. This provides several diverse views and angles of the region to be imaged. The procedure is considered non-invasive, and the patient normally does not need to fast or ingest any substances beforehand. A cardiac sonogram generally takes less than an hour to complete.

At the conclusion of the sonogram, the cardiac sonographer typically records the results and passes them on to the cardiologist for evaluation. He is not ordinarily authorized to interpret the report for the patient or doctor. If the results are inconclusive, the sonographer may be required to repeat the test.

Success in this position normally requires good communication skills to interact with doctors and patients. Attention to detail is generally preferred to properly record patient test results. The ability to put patients at ease before and during the procedure is usually considered an asset.

A cardiac sonographer position typically requires a minimum two-year associate’s degree in echocardiography. Some employers may require applicants to have a four-year bachelor’s degree to work as a cardiac sonographer. This additional education is normally perceived to be necessary to keep up with the rapidly advancing ultrasound technology. Some regions require licenses or certifications of applicants for this position as well.

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