What do Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Do?

Sonographers’ skills give physicians an inside look without exploratory surgery.

A sonographer is someone that assures pregnant moms their baby’s healthy. The sonographer squirts goo on the mother’s belly and glides a wand over her to see the baby on the sonogram. Then the parents can see the baby move in real time. If enough time has elapsed in the pregnancy, they may learn the baby’s gender. Sonograms also help parents learn of any problems with the pregnancy. Parents may keep printed or digital records of the sonography examination.

But is that all sonographers do?

Actually, diagnostic medical sonography includes a wide array of other medical specialties and health concerns. Sonographers may take images of the heart, blood vessels, thyroid, eyes, brain, breast, skin, abdominal organs, and muscles. The images may be shown in 2D, 3D or in motion as 4D video. As the name indicates, “diagnostics,” or aiding in diagnosis, is a big part of what diagnostic medical sonographers do.

A typical sonography visit.

Diagnostic medical sonographers record their patients’ health history. This is important, as known health conditions in the family and the patient’s own health record can affect the sonographer’s findings.

Sonographers also prepare the sonography exam room and equipment before exams, including the probe, software, and monitor. In addition to cleaning the equipment used, the sonographer must adjust its settings before each exam, as needed.

After sonographers perform sonograms, they check the images for quality, and discuss the images with the diagnosing physician. It’s important to note that diagnostic medical sonographers don’t diagnose conditions. This is why they talk with physicians about their findings for most instances. Exceptions may include identifying the gender of babies and pointing out the baby’s anatomy to the parents as they present to the probe. (“See, this is his left arm” and so on.) That type of information is not a diagnosis.

Where do diagnostic medical sonographers work?

In addition to the obstetrician’s office, diagnostic medical sonographers work in other specialists’ offices, health clinics, urgent care facilities, surgical centers and hospitals. Boutiques offering sonograms have also become a big trend for parents eager to welcome a new baby. These facilities employ sonographers, but don’t employ physicians to diagnose health conditions. Sonographers working in these settings create a memorable experience of parents’ first view of their baby and provide keepsake videos and images of babies before birth.