SMALL ANIMAL ULTRASOUND
What is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound imaging is a procedure used to view internal structures by employing high-frequency sound waves. The sound waves (produced by a transducer) work similarly to sonar imaging. The transducer sends out the sound waves, which "echo" or bounce off of the internal structures and return to the receiver. The echoes are then converted into electrical impulses which are transformed by the ultrasound machine into the images that appear on the screen.
What are Ultrasounds used for?
An ultrasound is a diagnostic tool used to examine a patient's internal organs and structures. Some examples include:
• Checking/verifying pregnancy
• Determining the cause of abdominal pain
• Determining the cause of intestinal disorders such as vomiting and diarrhea
• Evaluating the urinary tract for disease or abnormalities (stones, cancer, inflammation)
• Checking for abdominal masses or lesions
• Evaluation of the spread of certain diseases (cancers)
• Examining the presence and source of abdominal fluids
• Easing the aspiration (sampling) of abdominal masses and fluids
What is an Echocardiogram?
Commonly referred to as an "echo," echocardiograms use the same technology as ultrasounds to gather images and information about the functionality of the heart. Which an echo, we can asses the following aspects of a patient's heart:
• Arrhythmias and irregular heart beats
• Heart rate
• Size and shape of the heart
• Size and shape of the chambers of the heart (atria, ventricles)
• Thickness of the heart walls
• Condition and functionality of the heart's valves
• Size and location of masses
• Blood flow; including magnitude and direction (checking for regurgitation)
• Tissue densities
• Presence or absence of fluid in the pericardium (the sack that contains the heart) and around the heart (thoracic cavity)
• Analysis of sounds from various places of the heart
What does the procedure involve?
Ultrasounds and echocardiograms are noninvasive, painless procedures, however they do require that the patient stay very still and may require sedation in some cases. The patient's fur will need to be clipped and some procedures (such as a complete abdominal ultrasound or echocardiogram) need a larger area to be clipped than others (such as bladder-only or single-organ ultrasounds). Ultrasounds are safe, and do not involve any form of ionizing radiation as is the case with x-rays.