An ultrasound examination is a non-invasive imaging technique that allows internal body structures to be seen by recording echoes or reflections of ultrasonic sound waves. Ultrasound is often performed in conjunction with radiographs (x-rays) to help us determine the overall health picture on a particular patient. Ultrasound is a valuable tool for the examination of internal organs in cats and dogs.
Ultrasound requires that the area of interest is shaved to allow a clear image of the internal organs to be viewed on a computer screen. During an abdominal ultrasound, images and videos are obtained from all of the major organs to identify abnormalities. Sedation is often used to allow for a more calm exam with better image quality as moving during the exam can greatly reduce the quality of the images we can obtain.
Another advantage of ultrasound is being able to visualize abnormalities that require sampling. These samples (fluid or cells) are obtained using a technique called fine needle aspiration. This procedure involves using the ultrasound to guide a needle into an organ, body cavity, or mass to obtain cells or fluid that will help to further determine the origin of your pet’s illness. In general, this procedure is considered safe, but as with any procedure or treatment, there are certain risks that exist. Please discuss any specific concerns that you have with your technician or veterinarian prior to the procedure being performed.
Some examples of abnormalities that can be determined with ultrasound:
Masses or cysts
Gallbladder stones or debris in the gallbladder
Urinary bladder or kidney stones
Thickening of the intestines/stomach or other organs
Foreign bodies in the intestines or stomach
Enlargement of the adrenal glands
Enlargement and masses of the thyroid gland
And many more!
The ultrasound can also be used to obtain samples from:
Solid organs (like the liver or spleen)
Sterile urine samples
Sterile gallbladder fluid (bile)
Free fluid in the abdomen or chest cavities
There are some limitations to ultrasound. It will not be helpful, including many lesions in the lungs (air interferes with ultrasound) or abnormalities involving bone as the ultrasound cannot see through bone either.
Ultrasound can provide a great number of benefits to better serve you and your pet’s needs. Please call for more information about booking an appointment for an ultrasound.