Different Machines an Ultrasound Tech Uses
Ultrasound technicians use sonography machines to create images of the structures inside the body. The images these machines produce are used to diagnose medical conditions. For example, breast sonography machines can help detect cancers and cysts. The sonography machines used in obstetrics monitor the growth and development of babies in the womb.
As an ultrasound technician, it will be your responsibility to use these machines correctly as well as maintain them. It is a good idea, then, to learn about the different ultrasound machines you will be using in your line of work.
Basic Ultrasound Machine
The basic ultrasound machine used in most settings is the transabdominal machine. It uses a transducer to send out high-frequency sound waves (typically above 20 kilohertz) that bounce off the structures inside the body. The signal returns to the transducer which interprets them to create 2-dimensional images. These images can be displayed on a monitor or recorded. Ultrasound machines can also record sound, which why you are able to hear a baby’s heartbeat during a sonogram.
Most ultrasound machines are used on the exterior parts of the body, but in special cases it may be necessary to insert a transducer internally to take a scan. The transvaginal scanner is inserted into the vagina. Scans conducted this way are able to produce clearer images and is generally used during the early stages of pregnancy when the fetus may be too small to appear on a regular sonogram and obese patients. Although there is a lot of current controversy surrounding the use of transvaginal scanners, they can be very helpful in detecting problems such as fetal abnormalities, ectopic pregnancies, and fetal implantation outside of the womb.
The transrectal scanner is shaped to fit in the patient’s rectum and is used to scan for abnormalities in that area. It is commonly used on male patients to scan pelvic organs such as the prostate and seminal vesicles.
This type of ultrasound machine has been around for a long time and is used to measure the movement and speed of objects in the body. It is used in obstetrics to detect a baby’s heartbeat as well as for measuring the blood flow rate to and from the heart and in the major arteries. Doppler ultrasound machines send out a signal and change the frequency of the return signal when the object moves. The signal pitch is higher for objects moving towards the transducer and lower for objects moving away from it.
3D and 4D Ultrasound
Most ultrasound machines only produce 2-dimensional images. However, the technology has advanced far enough that 3-D and 4-D images can be created. The machine accomplishes this by taking multiple pictures of the object and then sending it to a computer to be molded into 3-D images that can be seen on screen. The same process is used to produce 4-D images except the images produced are a lot clearer.
Many times an ultrasound technician will need to travel to the patient in order to conduct the procedure. Portable ultrasounds allow them to do this with ease. Typically these machines are small enough to be pushed around on a cart.
Breast Ultrasound Machines
These machines are made specifically to scan breast tissue. Women are disproportionately affected by breast cancer and early detection is the key to curing the disease in the beginning stages. Breast ultrasounds are preferred over other types of scanning machines because it uses sound waves instead of radiation. The frequencies used in this machinery allow for clear images to be taken and are sensitive enough to find small abnormalities. Additionally, these machines use Doppler signals to monitor the blood flow in and out of the breast area.
Cardiac Ultrasound Machines
Also known as echocardiograms, cardiac ultrasound machines use sound waves to take images of the heart and measure blood velocity using Doppler signals. It is used to diagnose heart conditions and assess the health and function of cardiac valves. These machines are used almost exclusively by echocardiograhers. However, if you have the education and certification, you will use them as an ultrasound technician.
You will be trained on how to use and maintain these machines in your degree or vocational program. Typically, you will be required to work in an approved medical setting for 24 hours per week so you can obtain hands-on experience using sonography equipment. This is so you will be well prepared for your job when you obtain your degree or certification.