The Picture Worth a Thousand Words: The Value of Veterinary Ultrasound
While many people have seen an ultrasound image before (who hasn’t been subjected to in utero baby pics on social media?), most don’t realize how valuable a diagnostic tool this imaging modality can be. Veterinary ultrasound is a staple in what we do here at Berks Animal Emergency and Referral Center, and a tool we’re not so sure we could live without.
What Veterinary Ultrasound Does
Veterinary ultrasound is a valuable diagnostic tool because it is safe, non-invasive, and provides a wealth of information about the patient. Here’s how it works:
- Ultrasound utilizes a hand-held probe placed on an area of the body to create a real-time image on a screen. This is accomplished by focusing sound waves on a specific area, which bounce back at varying rates depending on the tissue that reflects them, thus creating the image that we are able to visualize.
- Unlike radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound allows us to see organ movement in real time, trace blood flow through color Doppler technology, and get a much better assessment of the details of individual internal organs. We can also see many organs such as the gallbladder and adrenal glands that are not visualized on a normal radiograph.
- An ultrasound is typically quick to obtain and there is no risk of side effects. Most animals tolerate an ultrasound without sedation.
An Indispensable Tool
Most pets don’t receive an ultrasound for pregnancy assessment (although we can use it to diagnose pregnancy and assess fetal viability). However, our expert staff uses ultrasound on a daily basis in order to:
- Precisely collect samples such as urine or free fluid in the abdomen or chest
- Evaluate the abdomen for tumors or obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract
- Investigate the cause of a heart murmur
- Perform a FAST scan (focused assessment sonography for trauma) after an accident to quickly look for life-threatening problems
- Obtain needle-guided sampling of specific tissues for biopsy
- Evaluate the urinary bladder for the presence of urinary stones or tumors
- Diagnose abnormal fluid in the chest or abdominal cavities
- Evaluate the cause of changes on blood work such as increased liver values
- Aid in pet cancer staging
Veterinary ultrasound is a valuable diagnostic tool that we use just about every day in our hospital. With it, we are able to more efficiently and accurately diagnose our pet patients and treat them even more effectively.
Berks Animal Emergency and Referral Center is committed to bringing the best in veterinary medicine to you and your pets. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help, we are here for you no matter the day or time.