Also known as sonography, ultrasound scanning is a non-invasive form of diagnostic imaging that uses sound waves to provide a real-time view of organs which enables assessment of movement (i.e., gut contractions) and internal structures. While radiographs (x-rays) provide an outline view of organs or the appearance of lungs and bones, an ultrasound provides a detailed view inside the organs. Ultrasounds are often accompanied by blood tests and other diagnostic procedures.
A veterinarian may recommend this test to examine an area where your pet is experiencing pain/discomfort, monitor the progress of a condition, or check how well a prescribed treatment is working. Your pet may receive an ultrasound:
- If they are experiencing symptoms like vomiting, blood work changes (i.e., kidney or liver values), weight loss, or lethargy.
- To demonstrate the presence of fluid or mass in the chest or abdomen.
- To classify changes within the eyeball/orbit.
- To evaluate a suspected soft tissue (muscle, ligament, tendon) injury.
- When a mass is suspected from x-rays and/or a physical examination.
- To perform tissue or fluid sampling under ultrasound-guidance, rather than being carried out ‘blind’.
To prepare for your pet’s appointment, read our Client Preparation Guide. If this procedure requires sedation and/or anesthesia, refer to our Sedation and Anesthetic Guide. We also recommend our clients become familiar with our Terms and Conditions.
For scheduled procedures, your pet must be admitted for the day.
- During admission, we will ask you to sign consent forms for the procedure and address questions you may have.
- Once admitted, a veterinarian will evaluate your pet, their medical history and lab work, and any radiographs (if applicable).
- An intravenous catheter may be placed in a leg vein for the administration of anesthetic agents. This requires hair clipping at the site. In rare circumstances, a small area on your pet’s chest may also be shaved to place a patch that monitors heart rate.
- We must clip patches of hair where the probe is placed on the skin – this allows better images to be obtained. The skin is cleaned and a clear gel is applied – this also improves the contact between the probe and the skin, giving a better image.
- Your pet will then be moved to the imaging suite, positioned, and scanned. A specially trained registered veterinary technician will be with your pet during the whole process to monitor their health status.
- The radiologist will move the probe slowly to create consistent images.
- During the procedure, your pet may be placed in various positions to obtain the best quality pictures.
- Afterwards, your pet will be brought to our intensive care unit, where a team of veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians will continue to monitor your pet during their recovery.
- Once a veterinarian has determined that your pet is cleared for discharge, we will call to inform you that your pet is ready to go home.
- After evaluating all of the information, the radiologist will then be able to make any recommendations on treatment, medication, and/or further diagnostics, and will provide a report to your veterinarian within 24 hours. Your veterinarian will discuss the ultrasound findings with you.
- If additional procedures are required (aspiration or biopsy), you will be contacted prior to the procedure and the benefits/risks and associated costs will be discussed. Any additional results will be forwarded to your veterinarian when they are received.
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