Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography Overview
Working as a cardiac ultrasound technologist can be very rewarding; you may see a problem in the heart and have to investigate why the problem is occurring. In a sense you are detectives, using your skills and reasoning to find and point out heart problems to the medical team. You’ll need to be sharp and attentive to deliver the best service to the patient, and sometimes it can literally be a life and death situation. So, how do you go about getting the skills to be a cardiac sonographer?
The first step is to explore the Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Cardiac) program at American Institute. This program is designed for individuals who already possess a Bachelor’s degree to receive the technical skills and training needed to become an ultrasound technologist specializing in the heart (cardiac). Our hybrid training approach gives you the flexibility you want and the skills you need to work as a sonographer. In the on-campus lab portion of the course, you’ll learn to generate and recognize normal cardiac ultrasound images using actual ultrasound equipment to practice and develop your skills.
This program prepares students to sit for the Adult Echocardiography (AE) specialty examination for the RDCS exams through the ARDMS. This program includes vascular training as well as Fetal Echocardiography exposure, which provides students a wide range of options for specialization after completing their training. During Term 6 (the final term) students are eligible to sit for the SPI exam (Sonography Principles and Instrumentation) which is half of the ARDMS exam. Upon graduation, students will be eligible to sit for the specialty ARDMS exam. In addition, American Institute reimburses students for the SPI exam if taken during Term 6 and one specialization test if taken within 90 days of graduation.
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What Cardiovascular Technologists Do
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists use imaging technology to help physicians diagnose cardiac (heart) and peripheral vascular (blood vessel) ailments in patients. They also help physicians treat problems with cardiac and vascular systems, such as blood clots.
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists typically do the following:
- Prepare patients for procedures by taking their medical history and answering their questions
- Prepare and maintain imaging equipment
- Perform noninvasive procedures, such as taking ultrasound images
- Analyze the images to check for quality and to ensure adequate coverage of the area being diagnosed
- Recognize the difference between normal and abnormal images
- Discuss image results with the physician<
- Help physicians during invasive procedures, such as inserting catheters (small tubes)
- Record findings and track patient records
Technologists and technicians do or help do tests that can be either invasive or noninvasive. An invasive procedure requires inserting probes or other instruments into a patient’s body, and a noninvasive procedure does not.
Cardiology technologists monitor patients’ heart rates and help diagnose and treat problems with patients’ hearts. The procedures can be invasive (such as inserting catheters) or noninvasive (such as using ultrasound equipment to take images of the heart).
Cardiac catheterization involves helping a physician thread a catheter through a patient’s artery to the heart. The procedure determines whether a blockage exists in the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle or helps to diagnose other problems. Some of these procedures may involve balloon angioplasty, which can be used to treat blockages of blood vessels or heart valves without the need for heart surgery.
Technologists prepare patients for these procedures by shaving and cleansing the area where the catheter will be inserted and administering topical anesthesia. During the procedure, they monitor the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate. Some cardiology technologists also prepare and monitor patients during open-heart surgery and during the insertion of pacemakers and stents that open blockages in arteries to the heart and other major blood vessels.
An EKG, or electrocardiogram, monitors the heart's performance through electrodes attached to a patient’s chest, arms, and legs while the patient is lying on a table. To test a physically active patient, the cardiac technologist uses a Holter monitor or stress test. The technologist puts electrodes on the patient’s chest and attaches a portable EKG monitor to the patient’s belt. The Holter monitor records normal activity for 24 or more hours, and the technologist then removes the tape from the monitor, places the monitor in a scanner, checks its quality, and prints the image for later analysis by a physician. For a stress test, the patient walks on a treadmill and the technologist gradually increases the speed to observe the effect of increased exertion.
Vascular technologists (Vascular sonographers) help physicians diagnose disorders affecting blood flow. Vascular technologists listen to the blood flow in the arteries and veins to check for abnormalities. They do noninvasive procedures using ultrasound instruments to record information, such as blood flow in veins, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Many of these tests are done during or immediately after surgery.
Cardiac sonographers (Echocardiographers) use ultrasound to examine the heart’s chambers, valves, and vessels. They use ultrasound instruments to create images called echocardiograms. The echocardiogram may be done while the patient is either resting or physically active.
Cardiovascular technicians work closely with cardiovascular technologists. Technicians who specialize in electrocardiogram (EKG) testing are known as cardiographic or electrocardiogram (EKG) technicians.Contact Us Today - take the next step towards a new career!