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An Ultrasound Career in Pediatric Echocardiography

“I absolutely love interacting with kids in my job, from newborns to toddlers to teenagers, even some patients in their 20s and 30s who started out as pediatric patients. There’s such a variety of patients and medical conditions that I see each day. The whole echocardiology process is amazing to me…” – Karin M. Ozowski, RDCS (PE) [Source: Dallas County Community College District www.dcccd.edu]
In the above testimonial, Karin M. Ozowski is describing her career as a cardiac sonographer at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. She completed an Associate’s degree in Pediatric Echocardiology from El Centro College in Dallas, Texas.

There are 18 accredited sonography schools in Texas from which to pursue your degree!

Pediatric Cardiac Sonographers Make a Difference

According to The Children’s Heart Foundation, congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect (approximately 40,000 newborns per year) and the top cause of infant death in the United States.

Echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) can lead to diagnoses of most congenital heart defects, states the American Heart Association. Diagnoses enabled through ultrasound, at the fetal and pediatric stages, can lead to successful treatment.

“Echocardiography offers to children with heart disease an accurate, noninvasive, nonionizing, painless, and relatively inexpensive diagnostic tool,” stated Delores Poppe, RN, RDMS, RDCS on her ARDMS Volunteer Spotlight page. “As such, it has become the gold standard of diagnosis by which lifesaving decisions are made for these children.”

(Poppe was the Chair of ARDMS’ Pediatric Echocardiography Exam Development Task Force. This particular exam is for sonographers wishing to gain specialty certification in PE as part of the RDCS or Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer credential. )

Career Titles

Sonographers who specialize in pediatric echocardiography may go by various titles. Some examples include:

  • Pediatric Cardiac Sonographer
  • Pediatric Echocardiographer
  • Pediatric Echocardiography Technologist
  • Pediatric Echo Tech
  • PEDS Echo Tech
  • Pediatric/Fetal Cardiac Sonographer
  • Pediatric Cardiac Sonographer—Traveler

Pediatric Echocardiography Advances and Trends

One area emerging in pediatric echocardiography is related to childhood and youth obesity. Ultrasounds are used to screen for early signs of related cardiovascular diseases and disorders. Also centers that are performing gastric bypasses on teens use echocardiography to assess heart functioning before the procedure.

Like all areas of ultrasound, pediatric echocardiography procedures have been continuously advancing over the last few decades. For example, echo images being recorded and interpreted on digital versus video formats, which makes comparison with past images much more efficient, and enables the images to be sent to cardiologists who may not be in the same building, or city for that matter. Another example is the development of pediatric transesophageal probes—smaller-sized probes to replace adult-sized one which allows for clearer and more detailed images.

“Because the new sonographic imaging equipment and better surgical techniques allow clinicians to detect and repair more cardiac abnormalities earlier, patients are living longer,” wrote Beth W. Orenstein for her article “Current Trends in Echocardiography” (SDMS New Wave, February 2010). “As a result, ‘as a sonographer, you’re doing a lot more work with young adult patients who have had a repair for some form of congenital heart disease,’ says Brooke K. Harland, Med, RDCS, RVT…”.

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