Obviously the heart needs extra special care. An echocardiography technologist
uses ultrasound to search our hearts to uncover any potential problems. Professionals
in this field may have alternate job titles, such as echocardiographer or
The heart is the most important muscle in the body. Advanced instruments
have been developed to monitor its valves, chambers and muscle contractions
or spasms. Echocardiography technologists operate this vital machinery. They
notice potential problems and share their findings with physicians.
Margaret Corbett works in a busy clinic. She says echocardiographers are
like detectives. They have to figure out what's causing the problem with someone's
They run a hand-held device known as a transducer over the patient's body.
Moving images of the heart, its chambers, valves and muscle contractions appear
on a television screen and are recorded on videotape. This procedure is called
an echocardiogram, or echo for short. It uses Doppler and ultrasound technology.
You may have heard the term Doppler on the news. Meteorologists use it
to pinpoint thunderstorms, snowstorms and other weather conditions. Echocardiographers
use it to measure blood flow. Doppler also makes sounds, so you can actually
hear the heart.
Echoes show how well the patient's heart is working. They show how fast
and in which direction the blood is flowing, or whether there are any blockages.
Echocardiographers study these images and write reports. They work under the
supervision of a doctor. The doctor is the one who advises the patient.
Technologists must be able to spot normal and abnormal findings. They must
know anatomy, pathology and physiology. A technologist also needs to know
how the ultrasound and Doppler machines work. That's so they can troubleshoot
and get quality diagnostic pictures of the heart.
These technologists must be expert communicators. They frequently talk
to patients as well as the doctors. Technologists may also contribute to and
maintain patients' medical records. They educate other medical staff and the
public about echoes as well.
Many patients are debilitated or critically ill. That means some lifting
or assisting of patients may be required. Examinations may occasionally be
performed at the patient's bedside. Some instruments are easily moved, but
the duplex scanner, for instance, is large and heavy.
Echocardiography technologists work in hospitals, clinics and in research
labs. Occasionally, they will travel to patients' homes. Full-time technologists
generally work a five-day, 40-hour week.
This job requires use of the senses of hearing and sight. People with special
needs in these areas may therefore find that this field may not be ideal for