Ultrasound allows diagnostic tests to be performed with the aid of safe, sound waves. The waves bounce off the animal’s internal organs (or a mass), and are decoded into an image on the monitor. This is a powerful and versatile technique in which a skilled ultrasonographer can see, measure, and assess the health of many internal organs. In many cases, it can preclude the need for major surgery. It can be used for pregnancy diagnosis (as soon as 28 days after the last breeding date).
If a tumor is suspected, its presence can be proven, its tissue biopsied, and a fairly accurate assessment can be made as to whether or not the tumor is operable. This assists the veterinary surgeon in planning and preparing for the surgery. This is a rewarding technique to evaluate the liver, spleen, adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys, prostate, bladder, and uterus. It is not, however, the primary tool used in disease of the stomach or intestines.
Preparation for the Technique:
The ultrasound examination itself is virtually risk free in most cases. It can usually be done without anesthesia or sedation, and requires about 30-40 minutes. If a biopsy is required, sedation and/or anesthesia (brief) may be required. A review of your pet’s medical records, tests, and a physical examination would generally precede the ultrasound. For these reasons, patients are fasted at least 12 hours prior to the appointments (which are generally scheduled in the morning). For your pet’s safety, and procedure planning, it is best to assume your animal will be admitted to our hospital for a least a few hours. Biopsies are usually done with ultrasound guided instruments. The tissues are sent by courier to board certified pathologists. The turnaround time is about 4-7 business days.
Ultrasound is a safe technique to determine if an animal is pregnant. It can be used as early as 28 days after the last breeding date. Ultrasound can also be used to visualize the reproductive organs which include the uterus and ovaries in the female, and the prostate/testes in the male animal. This is generally a short, out-patient visit.