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Ultrasound Terminology

Let’s face it.  Medical terminology can be confusing, especially when you’re just starting out.  Several years ago, the field of medical imaging underwent a change in terminology.  The common terms of “ultrasound” or “ultrasound technician” went by the wayside and were replaced by “diagnostic medical sonography” or “sonogapher”.  This terminology more accurately reflects what the medical professional does with their patient, in that they use sonography to diagnose and treat medical conditions.  However, the average layperson may have not quite made that switch.  For our purposes at ultrasoundschoolsinfo.com, in order to address the interests of those just beginning to explore the field, we will interchangeably use both terms.

But what about all those other terms you’ll find?  We’ll tackle those one by one and address the primary terminology used in the field.  In a typical education program, medical terminology will be coursework that you’ll go through.  This will give you a much more thorough understanding than we can address here, but we’ll try to hit the main points.


Ultrasound: The use of ultrasound waves at a very high frequency. Put very simply, as the echos bounce back, an image is produced. That image is called a sonogram.

Transducer: A transducer is a device that converts energy from one type to another. In sonography, the transducer sends high frequency sound waves and then receives them back.

Transducer Pulse Controls: Used by the ultrasound tech to change the amplitude, frequency, and duration of the sound waves emitted from the transducer.

Central Processing Unit (CPU): The computer that does the calculations that turn the returned sound waves into images.

Invasive ultrasounds: Most ultrasounds are done on the outside of the body. However, occasionally an invasive ultrasound is needed, which means that the transducer is inserted inside the body, such as in a transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound. There are no incisions involved, rather the probe is placed into a natural opening on the body.

Accreditation: The act of establishing educational standards, and assessing and monitoring whether an institution meets those standards. Typically administered by non-profit governing bodies.

Cardiovascular: A specialization within the medical field that diagnoses and treats problems associated with the heart and blood vessels.

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