What is Cardiovascular Sonography?
Cardiovascular sonography uses high-frequency sound, also referred to as ultrasound, to generate detailed images of the heart and vascular structures, like arteries and veins. The images help physicians and other medical personnel determine the function of the heart and any abnormal conditions. They also help determine the course of treatment.
Cardiovascular Sonography Programs
A variety of post secondary institutions offer cardiovascular sonography programs at the associate, bachelors, and master's degree levels. Also, certificate programs are available for students who are currently licensed health care professionals or have a previous degree in an allied health field. Some schools enable students to specialize in a certain area, such as echocardiography or pediatric cardiovascular sonography. Nearly all programs include clinical components where students learn how to use ultrasound and echocardiograph machines. Some clinical experiences enable students to work alongside cardiovascular sonography professionals at local medical facilities to gain a better understanding of what to expect in future careers. Cardiovascular sonography programs prepare students for entry-level careers or to pursue advanced education opportunities. Certificate programs in cardiovascular sonography can typically be finished in about two to three semesters, and clinical components may or may not be required. Associate degree programs take about two years to complete and include various clinical experiences. Bachelor's degree programs take a minimum of four years to complete, and often include numerous clinical experiences and internships. Many associate and bachelor's degree cardiovascular sonography programs prepare students for professional certification as a Registered Vascular Technologist or other related title from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Some programs require students to complete at least one year of clinical work before taking the certification examination.
Cardiovascular Sonography Classes
While the specific requirements vary by program students commonly complete the following courses in cardiovascular sonography programs.
Anatomy and Physiology- students learn about all the organs and structures that make up the human body. They study the major organs and connective tissues as well as the circulatory, endocrine, digestive, musculoskeletal, excretory, nervous, and reproductive systems. These courses also provide in-depth discussions of the anatomy and physiology of the cardiac system. Most anatomy and physiology courses include a lab component where students are exposed to model or real-life human tissues.
Ultrasound Physics- provides an introduction to ultrasound technology and its function. Students learn how sound waves are generated from ultrasound equipment and how they move throughout the human body. They also learn how to measure the frequency and velocity of ultrasound to generate an image of the heart. Students learn about didactic and clinical aspects of ultrasound transducers and how to store and retrieve images.
Introduction to Cardiovascular Sonography- students study the anatomy and physiology of the heart to enable them to identify all the layers and structures within the organ. The structures include the coronary arteries and veins and the aortic arch. Students also study the blood supply to the various areas of the heart. Many courses include basic embryology and examples of congenital heart conditions. Students also commonly learn about the basics of Doppler technology and standard ultrasound techniques to create both two- and three-dimensional images of the heart.
Introduction to Doppler Technology- students learn about the different types of Doppler technology and how they are used in cardiovascular sonography. They learn about the features of hemodynamic and the associated abnormalities that are shown with Doppler imaging. They also learn how to evaluate the spectral waves and color flow obtained by Doppler tools to conclude both regular or irregular blood flow and other conditions. Many courses include lectures and laboratory components.
Cardiovascular Sonography Procedures- students learn about the general procedures used for non-invasive echocardiograms on adults, children, and unborn babies. They learn the methods to perform both resting and stress tests and using contrast agents in examinations. They also learn about general patient care, positioning of patients, how to set up equipment, maintenance and repair of equipment, and medical ethics.