Echo Techs or Echocardiography Technicians create 2-D and 3-D pictures of patients’ hearts through the use of special equipment and high frequency sound waves. An ultrasound technician may choose echocardiography as a specialization. Techs will use sound wave projectors to project sound into human tissue in a conical or rectangular beam. The sound is then echoed back to a receiver that returns the data to a computer which is used to create an image of the tissue. The Echo Technician may specialize in fetal, pediatric or adult echocardiography. Job growth in this field is expected to over 30% in the next several years.
The Echo Technician will be responsible for preparing the patient and the diagnostic equipment for the imaging procedures. The tech will also be responsible for explaining the procedure to the patient. The tech will position the patient and then apply a gel that aids in sound transmission to the patient’s skin before using the diagnostic equipment to create images of the patient’s heart. After the procedure, the tech will help the physician interpret the data from the images and determine which images should be saved and which discarded. The Echo Technician may also be responsible for ensuring that accurate records are kept.
The Echocardiography Technician is also sometimes referred to as diagnostic cardiac sonographers, cardiac sonographers or just echocardiographers. As an Echo Tech the main tasks of the occupation involve creating images of the heart, cardiac chambers, valves and vessels for the purpose of assessing heart function and to diagnose heart ailments. The tech will work closely with cardiologists, and will often perform the technical aspects of the examinations, evaluate the findings and report them to the cardiologist. The tech is responsible for interviewing the patient and reviewing medical records so that sonographic techniques may be adapted to the patient’s needs. The Echo Tech will provide patient care such as preparing the patient for the sonographic imaging and providing them with instruction during the echocardiograph so that the images will turn out properly. Echocardiography may be performed on the patient that is lying down or while they are on a treadmill to assess their heart while it is under a physically stressful situation.
Skills key to the Echo Tech’s job may include: clear communication skills, attention to detail, social nuance, physical endurance, manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination
The Echocardiography Technician may find employment in medical and diagnostic laboratories, hospital and physician’s offices.
Normally a Certificate or Associate’s Degree in Echocardiography or Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography is required to work as an Echo Tech. Educational programs will instruct the student in normal and abnormal cardiac anatomy, cardiac scanning techniques, ultrasound instrumentation and many other key areas of echocardiography.