The discipline of Diagnostic Medical Sonography has its own language. Most of the terms are obvious as to their meaning. However, there are words that are used interchangeably, and they can be quite confusing for people who are researching sonography careers in 2017. Is ultrasonography the same as sonography? Does ultrasound mean the same thing as sonogram? These are the common questions asked by students who are reading the wealth of online information about ultrasound technology.
Solving Mystery One: Ultrasonography or Sonography?
Is it tomato or tomahto? Is it potato or potahto? In the movie “Shall We Dance,” the actor and actress sing a Gershwin tune with lyrics that use the various ways people pronounce words as a metaphor for differences in people. People in the field of sonography pronounce words the same way, but they also use them interchangeably. This creates some confusion for those just learning what sonography or ultrasound technology is all about.
In the ultrasound industry, the questions go like this: Is it ultrasonography or sonography? Do you say Diagnostic Medical Sonography or Ultrasound Technology? Sonography, ultrasound, and ultrasonography are terms used interchangeably, so the real question is this: Do these words have the same meaning?
Consider these definitions:
- Ultrasonography – This is the word used for the process of imaging the body’s structures by using ultrasonic waves that produce echoes or reflected sound waves based on changes in tissue density.
- Sonography – The is the term for the procedure in which high frequency sound waves are directed at tissues to produce visual images of tissues, organs and blood flow.
According to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, sonography is the commonly used word for ultrasonography. Bottom line is this: Ultrasonography and sonography are two words that mean the same thing. Sonography is just a shortened way of referring to ultrasonography.
Solving Mystery Two: Sonogram vs. Ultrasound
What is a sonogram? What is an ultrasound? Following are three more definitions to review.
This is a term referring to using ultrasound for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes by creating two-dimensional images of internal physical structures to detect and diagnose abnormalities. Used as a noun, ultrasound is a diagnostic examination. The process is also called sonography, ultrasonography and echography.
The word describes a person or type of image. For example, a student may decide to become an ultrasound technician or ultrasound technologist. An ultrasound image is the image produced through the capturing of the echoes bouncing back from tissues after ultrasound waves are directed to internal issues.
A sonogram is the image that is produced during an ultrasound examination. The image is also called an ultrasonogram or an echogram.
The difference between a sonogram and ultrasound is this: The sonogram is the ultrasound image or the digital image that is the end result of the ultrasonic examination. Sonogram always means “image.” Ultrasound either means a process of imaging or describes the type of image. The sonogram image is used by physicians to assess the condition of a fetus, tissues, organs and the vascular system. Its primary purpose is to find and detect abnormalities. However, ultrasound is increasingly being used for therapeutic purposes. This means it is used as a treatment and not just as a diagnostic tool.
One of the reasons people get confused about the terminology is due to the fact the terms are often used interchangeably. For example, a health professional may say the doctor has ordered a sonogram or the doctor has ordered an ultrasound. What the physician has really ordered is a sonogram, ultrasound image or ultrasonogram.
It is important to understand the terms for the purpose of researching sonography programs or reading occupational descriptions. Also note that many of terms for the procedures and images may include differentiating words. For example, there are obstetric ultrasounds, abdominal ultrasounds, pediatric sonograms, point-of-care ultrasound and so on. It is recommended that anyone considering a career in Diagnostic Medical Sonography only rely on reliable professional sites like the UltrasoundTechnicianCenter.org or the descriptions offered online by schools with CAAHEP accredited sonography programs.