Ultrasonography (also called ultrasound or sonography) is a noninvasive, pain-free procedure that uses sound waves to examine your pet’s internal organs and other structures inside the body. It can be used to:
- Evaluate the heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder and urinary bladder
- Detect fluid, cysts, tumors or abscesses
- Confirm pregnancy or monitor an ongoing pregnancy
Ultrasound may be used in conjunction with other diagnostic imaging such as radiography (X-rays) and to ensure a proper diagnosis. Interpretation of ultrasound images requires great skill on the part of the veterinarian.
Gel or alcohol is applied to the surface of the body, and then the doctor methodically moves a transducer (a small handheld tool) across the skin to visualize and record images of the area of interest. The transducer emits ultrasonic sound waves, which are directed into the body toward the structures to be examined, bounce back and are detected to produce detailed images of the structure on a monitor which can be digitally recorded for subsequent evaluation if needed.
Ultrasound does not involve radiation, has no known side effects and doesn’t typically require pets to be sedated or anesthetized. The hair in the area to be examined often needs to be shaved to obtain the best results. In addition, ultrasound can also be used to accurately visualize and direct a needle through the body wall to obtain tissue or fluid samples for laboratory analysis or to remove fluid when necessary. Additionally ultrasound of the heart (called echocardiography) is the gold standard for evaluating the heart and its valves in heart disease. When necessary, we have a close relationship with a mobile veterinary ultrasonographer who comes to our hospital to perform this specialized examination.
If you have any questions about our ultrasonography service at Channel Islands Veterinary Hospital or what to expect during your pet’s procedure, please contact us.