Ultrasound is a safe, non-invasive diagnostic tool that provides detailed information about abdominal structures including the urinary bladder, kidneys, lymph nodes, liver, gallbladder and other important structures. This information is often vital in establishing a diagnosis of your pet’s health issues. Unlike x-rays that require exposure to radiation, ultrasound utilizes sound waves to generate diagnostic images on a monitor. On the other hand, it is not as good at seeing through air or bone, so it does not replace radiography but rather is complimentary to the information we get from radiographs.
It is common to do both x-rays and ultrasound in order to get a complete picture of our patients. Ultrasound patients do require some hair clipping to improve image quality but rarely need sedation. Most people are familiar with the benefits of this technology only as it applies to fetal monitoring in human pregnancy but the benefits of ultrasound go far beyond pregnancy monitoring. Ultrasound is typically performed after blood tests, x-rays or an exam indicates a possible problem. Additionally, results from ultrasound studies can provide immediate answers in emergency situations that may warrant more timely surgical or medical intervention:
Ultrasound guided biopsies of internal organs may be recommended as a means to further identify a disease process involving the internal organs. This procedure requires sedation but permits the sampling of abdominal structures without major surgery. Specialized needles that collect tissue with ultrasound guidance are considered minimally invasive and assist in the diagnosis and further treatment plans of your pet. Immediate aspiration of abnormal abdominal fluid can identify patients with bleeding issues, urinary leakage or infection. Information obtained from organ biopsies can differentiate cancer from inflammatory disease and aid in surgical or chemotherapy decisions.