Cardiac sonographers, also known as echocardiographers, use ultrasound to examine the heart's chambers, walls, valves and vessels. They use technology such as sophisticated diagnostic ultrasound imaging machines and transducers that use high-frequency sound waves to produce dynamic visual images to complete important tasks, such as:
- Acquiring information related to the heart's anatomy and physiology
- Producing real-time images of cardiac structures to assist the physician in diagnosing cardiovascular disease
- Evaluating acquired and congenital cardiac abnormalities and associated complications
- Evaluating narrowed or leaking heart valves
- Looking for causes of murmurs, chest pain, shortness of breath
- Tracking and evaluating chronic heart conditions
Cardiac sonographers work directly with healthy and critically ill inpatients and outpatients of all ages in predominantly noninvasive procedures, carried out in small, low-lit rooms. They stand or sit beside the patient, who is on a stretcher, exam table or wheelchair. Sometimes the cardiac sonographer will transport a portable ultrasound to a patient's room and perform the test there.