What is a Ultrasonography?
Ultrasonography is an imaging technique that utilizes high frequency, low intensity sound waves to create images of tissue which can be viewed and/or saved onto a computer CD.
How do Ultrasounds work?
The doctor uses a probe that is simply placed on the skin of the patient. Numerous shot pulses of sound travel into the body and the machine analyzes the reflections of this sound to create a picture. The doctor can use these images to look for abnormalities in various places such as the abdomen.
Why use an Ultrasound?
There are many reasons for having a sonogram performed on your pet. As with people, we use them for pregnancy diagnosis. More often though, we use them for identifying bladder and kidney stones, identifying masses, and for evaluating liver, spleen and other organs.
What does this mean for my pet?
There are many benefits to using this modality of diagnosis. The first is that it does not require anesthesia. With x-rays, (in most cases) we are required to sedate your pet in order to get good pictures. With ultrasound, we simply clip an area of hair and touch the probe to the patient. It is completely painless and we can do the procedure with the animal standing up or lying down.
Another benefit is that we get a live moving image. This gives us more information than a still picture would and aids in the diagnosis of certain types of cancers.
So why do we use x-rays?
Ultrasound works great for soft tissue (organs, muscles, fluid) but the sound waves do not travel through bone or air. Therefore, for imaging limbs, back, head and lungs, x-rays are still superior. Even for the abdomen, x-rays can give us information about size and shape that ultrasound will not. Since x-rays and ultrasounds give us different information, they actually complement each other and often times a doctor will recommend both procedures.
What can we do with these images?
All ultrasound exams are sent out for a second opinion. We input all of our ultrasound exams into a computer and send the images through the phone line to a certified veterinary radiologist (see telemedicine). Within 24-48 hours, we have a specialist's second opinion faxed right to our office. In cases of cardiac exams, all x-rays, EKG's and ultrasound images are sent to a certified cardiologist. This assures that your pet gets the best and most recent medical care for whatever problem is diagnosed.