Although humans and animals are different in many ways, some advances in human medicine are also very useful for veterinary patients. One of these advances, ultrasound, has proven to be a powerful tool in veterinary medicine especially now that ultrasound technology and ultrasound machines have improved significantly and are more affordable for veterinary clinics to purchase.
Ultrasonography is a type of diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an imaging study. This means that when we perform ultrasonography, we can see internal images of your pet’s body, which can include images of abdominal organs, including the liver, spleen, gallbladder, bladder, and kidneys. Ultrasonography is a simple and painless way to diagnose and evaluate many common diseases. Most of the time, ultrasonography can be done in the awake patient, but sometimes pre-visit medications or mild intravenous sedation are needed to help relax your pet while they are lying on their back. To get the best images possible, your pet’s belly or other areas may need to be shaved to prevent the fur or hair from interfering with the image quality.
Both x-rays and ultrasound imaging are useful and helpful tools for determining if your pet has any abnormalities. They are often used together to help get a diagnosis. An analogy would be that x-rays allow us the see the entire forest while ultrasound allows us to see the leaves, each type of imaging has its own benefits and limitations, and that is often why we need to do both.
Learning and interpreting ultrasound images can take years of experience and are often left to board-certified veterinarians. Dr. Lofsky is not an ultrasonography expert but uses his ultrasound machine to help look for obvious abnormalities like tumours, fluid-filled abdomens, and bladder stones. By having an ultrasound in our hospital, we can quickly look for abnormalities without waiting days or weeks to schedule an ultrasound with a specialist. If required, a specialist can be called in, or the images can be sent to a board-certified veterinarian.