Cardiac Sonographer

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The echocardiographer’s or cardiac sonographer’s role concerns undertaking a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) procedure, in which a transducer is used to send sound waves through the patient’s chest to their heart, building an image from the returning echoes.

Echocardiographer’s duties involve controlling the ultrasound machine to optimise images, provide reliable and reproducible data, and an accurate report to reflect the cardiac disease process.

Sonographer’s are routinely involved in other procedures that include increasing the patient’s heart rate via drug or exercise induction, to view for abnormalities from narrowed coronary arteries. They may also help the physician with transoesophageal echocardiogram’s where a probe is placed down the oesophagus to view the heart more clearly. Technological advances in cardiac imaging allow for the acquisition of  3D models and to use software that monitors changes in cell length within the heart wall.

A sonographer’s role has technical and physical challenges that makes this a rewarding and integral role to diagnosis.

Career Path

The echocardiographer’s minimum requirements are a high school diploma or equivalent. A bachelor of science degree, not limited to Physiology and preferably work experience within the hospital environment.

Most sonographer’s have a cardiac physiology background and train on the job towards a NZ recognised qualification, such as the Diploma in Medical Ultrasound (Cardiac DMU) or QUT.

Due to the department size and needs, often the cardiac sonographer has a multidisciplinary approach and undertakes many procedures as a cardiac physiologist. There are no formal qualifications in NZ as yet for cardiac sonographer’s and Australasian qualifications are advised to be able to register with the CPRB.