CAREER GUIDES

Here's how echocardiographer uses sound waves to create an image of the heart

Image: 123RF/Serhii Bobyk.

Echocardiology is a highly specialised form of sonography utilising Doppler imaging to visualise the anatomy and function of the heart, to monitor direction and speed of blood flow, the shape of the valves and heart chambers, and how they move as the heart is beating, echo patterns, etc.

It is used in conjunction with standard chest X-rays and an ECG (electrocardiogram). The testing administered by echocardiography and vascular technology technicians is noninvasive, meaning that the tests do not involve any tubes or other foreign objects being inserted into the patients.

Ultrasound equipment creates pictures by sending high-frequency sound waves into the patient’s body and recording the echoes of those waves. The computer processes the reflected sound-waves into images which are viewed on a screen, and may be recorded onto video or film for later review by a medical doctor.

Technicians are responsible for observing the ultrasound image and finding problematic areas. They choose which images to include on the film for the doctor’s review and decide if the ultrasound images are clear enough for the doctor to make a diagnosis confidently.

They also record relevant medical histories, set equipment parameters, and explain to the patient what they are doing.They may be required to wear lead coats to protect them from radiation.

Personal requirements

  • Pay attention to detail
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to concentrate for long periods
  • Able to remain calm in emergencies
  • Responsible and reliable
  • Be supportive of and positive towards patients

How to enter

Schooling & school subjects National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to study

Degree: universities with medical schools eg Wits, UCT, UP

In order to work in this occupation you will be required to be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Please check their website under Radiography & Clinical Technology  for the most up-to-date requirements.

Employment

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Other health care facilities

Getting started

  • Speak to an echocardiographer about this career
  • Read up on the latest developments in medical technology
  • Find out about echocardiograms and how they are used to diagnose heart disease
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