Have you ever been concerned about your pet not eating? Maybe she’s been vomiting for a few days, and you’re not sure why. Chances are, you brought her into the vet. Sometimes the problem is quickly pinpointed and treatment begins immediately. But what about if we can’t find what’s wrong through a physical exam, x-rays, and blood tests?
Sometimes we need to dig deeper to diagnose your pet, and this is where ultrasound comes in. Years ago, we may have had to perform exploratory surgery to get a look at internal organs. Today, we have ultrasound to help us examine internal organs in a non-invasive manner. Godspeed Animal Care is proud to offer this service to pets in our area.
What Is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves that bounce off internal structures in the area of interest. A probe is used on the skin of your pet over the area to be evaluated, and this returns an image of the internal structures to a screen. It is totally painless for your pet.
Using Ultrasound to Diagnose Your Pet
Ultrasound was first used in veterinary medicine to check for pregnancy. However, the technique has advanced to be useful in a number of ways, including:
Reproductive – Ultrasound is still used to evaluate pregnancy, due dates, and number of puppies or kittens to expect. It’s a fun and exciting way to make sure things are on track!
Abdominal – In evaluating the abdominal cavity with ultrasound, we can visualize the organs, such as the liver, stomach, and kidney. Ultrasound is useful in detecting tumors, cysts, and abnormalities in organs and blood vessels.
Cardiac – A cardiac ultrasound can be performed to visualize the heart and its structures, and to measure heart function. These scans are sent to a veterinary cardiac specialist for evaluation to be sure we detect any small anomaly.
Emergency – In a veterinary emergency, we can use ultrasound to quickly and painlessly evaluate what’s wrong internally and plan next steps, including surgery.
Biopsy – Sometimes it’s necessary to collect some cells from an organ or internal structure to determine what kind of disease we might be dealing with. In these instances, biopsy may be recommended. Because we can so clearly see the internal structures with ultrasound, an ultrasound guided biopsy is an advanced way to make sure we are collecting cells from a specific spot.
Cystocentesis – Just as collecting cells is made more specific with ultrasound, we can also use it to collect urine samples directly from the bladder in a pain-free manner. This ensures that if we find bacteria present, it’s in the bladder and not on the outside of the skin or other structures.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Ultrasound?
Although ultrasound is an effective tool for evaluating internal structures, ultrasound waves cannot pass through air, and so it’s not useful in evaluating the lungs. In addition, it’s not the best way to evaluate bones, as the ultrasound waves are also stopped by bone. Luckily, we have other great tools to evaluate these areas.
We hope this has given you an overview of what ultrasound is and how it can be used to diagnose your pet. If ultrasound has been recommended for your pet, or if you have additional questions, please call us for more information.