Echocardiology is a medical term for the study involving obtaining recorded ultrasonic images of the heart and interpreting the images. An echocardiogram is the actual record that is obtained by using ultra sound waves to create a picture of the heart. The medical professionals who administer the tests, read the results, check for clarity, and subsequently provide the records to the ordering physician have been trained in echocardiology. The most common term related to echocardiology is cardiovascular ultrasound.
Many colleges offer medical technology programs in echocardiology. Often a two-year program, echocardiology technology specializes in learning to administer the non-invasive procedure of obtaining an echocardiogram in a hospital or diagnostic facility setting. Students following an echocardiology technology program must take several courses, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and other medical specialty classes, along with a few basic college Math and English classes. They also receive training in medical records technology and the laws pertaining to medical records.
Students considering the specialty field of echocardiology should know that their typical work environment will consist of a laboratory facility or a hospital. They may be required to perform heavy lifting of patients and they may be exposed to infectious diseases. They may choose to specialize in pediatric echocardiology and work only with children.
Further training to learn to perform transesophagal echocardiograms is a further option. A transesophagal echocardiogram is an ultrasonic image of the heart taken through the esophagus by placing a tube in a patient’s esophagus through the throat. This is sometimes necessary to obtain an accurate record in patients with cardiopulmonary disease or other complications making a conventional echocardiogram difficult to obtain.
A person who completes an echocardiology technology course is called an echocardiographer. The career outlook for an echocardiographer is good, as is the case with most professions in the medical field involving medical imaging. It may be necessary to obtain a four-year degree or participate in a fellowship for career advancement. Salaries vary depending on experience, education, facility, and location. More information about the field of echocardiology can be found through the American Society of Echocardiography.