The terms “ultrasound”, “ultrasonography” and “sonogram” may sound familiar to you. Widely used in the last 50 years, doctors first applied ultrasonography in medicine to detect pregnancy. In a frame or scrapbook at home, you may even have your child’s first “sonogram”. A sonogram is the image created on a screen or print out produced by a medical ultrasound. Just like human medicine, veterinarians first used ultrasound in to detect pregnancy in animals, however, they now use it for a wide variety of reasons.
The term “ultrasound” refers to sound waves with a frequency too high for humans to hear, not unlike the silent dog whistle you use to train Buster. An ultrasound wave produces an image when sent through the body with the use of a probe. The sound echoes off parts of the tissue and then displays a sonogram on the screen.
A very valuable diagnostic procedure, our practice commonly uses ultrasonography to evaluate the abdominal cavity and the organs contained within. Having several advantages over other forms of diagnostic imaging, it shows a live image and diagnosis can be immediate. You will generally know the results of an ultrasound soon after our practice reviews the data gathered. However, ultrasound cannot view gas filled or bony tissue and other forms of diagnostic imaging like a CT scan may better view certain areas of the body.
One of the most common kinds of ultrasonography is the Echocardiogram, which is generally performed by a cardiologist. Echocardiography evaluates the heart. It can view and carefully evaluate movement and size of the walls, chambers and valves of the heart.
Our practice also employs the use of contrast ultrasonography. Before the ultrasound, we first administer a contrast agent to your pet. This increases the visibility of blood and the tissue through which the blood flows. The ability to evaluate the blood flow can provide addition information about lesions, tumors or other abnormalities.
Painless and noninvasive, anesthesia is not necessary during an ultrasound, however sedation is not uncommon. Because ultrasound waves cannot transmit through air, our practice shaves your pet’s fur to provide direct contact to the skin. A water soluble gel helps with conduction and may feel slightly wet or cold but the procedure shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. There are no documented risks and no ionizing radiation.