Nine Ways Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Jobs are Growing
When people think of sonography, they usually think of ultrasounds on pregnant women. But as diagnostic medical sonography applications grow, new and emerging roles are expanding for allied health professionals. Today, diagnostic medical sonographer is one of the fastest growing job types in the United States, provide critical diagnostics for all sorts of medical conditions.
The field is booming, with employment for sonography technician jobs projected to grow 26% from 2014 to 2024, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What's driving the demand? Part of the growth is due to aging baby boomers, who rely on ultrasound technology to diagnose blood clots and heart disease. Imaging technology is also improving. Ultrasound is becoming less expensive than more invasive procedures, and often less expensive than other imaging technologies.
Here are nine types of ultrasound technologists, according to the BLS and the Ultrasound Technician Center:
- Obstetric and gynecologic (OB/GYN) sonographers focus on the female reproductive system. They evaluate the health of the fetus as well as the pelvic organs. In non-pregnant women, their images are used to assess problems such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and cancer.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in imaging the abdominal cavity, including organs such as the gall bladder, kidney, liver, pancreas or spleen. Ultrasound is used to diagnose the cause of abdominal pain and swelling, such as cysts and tumors, and to view blockages and blood clots.
- Breast sonographers typically image a woman's breasts after a mammogram. Ultrasound can more easily confirm the presence of cysts in dense breast tissue. It also differentiates between fluid-filled cysts and hard masses
- Pediatric sonographers image children and infants whose conditions are often associated with premature birth or birth defects.
- Musculoskeletal sonographers focus on muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints and soft tissues. They image patients who might suffer from bursas, torn rotator cuffs, muscle tears or the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis. They also work with children to confirm soft tissue lumps or hip dislocations.
- Ophthalmologic sonographers identify abnormalities of the eye, including cataracts and vitreous hemorrhaging, in which blood leaks to the back of the eye.
- Vascular sonographers image blood vessels to help evaluate the blood flow to tissues and organs.
- Cardiac sonographers, known as echocardiographers, image the patient's heart, including the heart's chambers, valves and vessels. Cardiac sonographers may specialize in three sub-areas: fetal echocardiaography, pediatric echocardiography and adult echocardiography.
- Neurosonographers specialize in the nervous system, helping to evaluate issues that affect the brain and spinal cord, such as stroke, brain tumors and aneurysms. They also image patients with disorders included paralysis, herniated discs, and multiple sclerosis.