Most of us have had an ultrasound, but few probably know much about this safe medical exam and who performs it. Sonographers, who are highly-trained professionals, are like medical detectives. They use high-frequency sound waves to assess organs, tissues, and blood flow inside the body and to produce images. The sonographer’s interpretive report helps doctors evaluate a patient’s medical condition and influences treatment and care.
You may be familiar with ultrasounds for obstetrics and gynecology, but highly-specialized examinations for cardiovascular, breast, bowel, and a variety of other medical investigations are also done. New approaches and technology enhancements mean that the applications for sonography are potentially endless.
Sonographers can receive credentials from Sonography Canada which are considered the gold standard by sonographers and employers. The organization also defines competency standards and guidelines about topics like informed consent, and makes recommendations about how exams are conducted.
Women are encouraged to take an active role in their health care and should feel empowered to ask the sonographer questions about their qualifications and the procedure.
What you can expect
Ultrasounds are valued by medical professionals as they’re easily accessed, low-cost relative to other imaging, and provide essential information to your doctor. If you’re referred for an exam, the hospital or clinic may provide you with information about how to prepare. Following the instructions is essential to obtaining optimal results. The sonographer will also ask questions about your medical history so they can get a better understanding of your situation.
Women are encouraged to take an active role in their health care and should feel empowered to ask the sonographer questions about their qualifications and the procedure. If you feel uncomfortable about the examination, you have the right to decline or stop the procedure and should not be pressured into continuing. To make sure you’re comfortable, you also have the right to have a chaperone present during the exam or to request a sonographer who is of the same gender.
Ontario is the only province that currently regulates sonographers through the College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. The role of the College is to protect the public’s interest, and sonographers must be registered with the College to legally practice in the province.
If you have a complaint about a sonographer in Ontario, you can contact the College, who will investigate on your behalf.