How does an ultrasound examination help my pet?
We perform many ultrasound examinations every week. It’s a very useful test for determining why your pet may feel ill. The examination is extremely safe and painless and can usually be done without your pet being sedated. They just lie on their side on a comfy bed. It’s necessary to clip the hair around the area that requires scanning.
Ultrasound can show the source of the problem in many situations when an X-ray can’t. It can distinguish organs from fluid, which would look very similar on an X-ray, but cannot penetrate air or bones, which is where we would use an X-ray instead.
What sort of problems can an ultrasound test reveal?
If your pet is passing blood in their urine, an ultrasound may show bladder stones or a tumour to be the problem, for example. If a female animal is passing blood, it can show a womb infection.
If a pet has collapsed, an ultrasound scan can show bleeding and growths in the spleen.
If liver or kidney problems show up on a blood test (usually run because a pet is drinking more than normal), then ultrasound can help to show what sort of problem is present – issues such as kidney stones, growths, or an inflamed pancreas affecting the liver. We can see signs of kidney infection or signs that a stone is blocking the ureter coming out of the kidney.
Ultrasound can show changes in the guts, suggesting inflammatory bowel disease, and can show growths in the guts, and sometimes also shows swallowed foreign bodies like balls and socks.
What about heart problems?
Ultrasound is excellent for assessing the shape and size of the heart and the strength of the contractions. When dogs are coughing or collapsing, or when cats are struggling to breathe, it can help us see that the heart isn’t working as it should and guide us to the best treatment. We might scan your pet’s heart after hearing a murmur at their booster appointment, to check if everything is okay. Ultrasound can show when fluid is present in the chest too.
How else can ultrasound be used to help my pet?
We can use ultrasound to help us ‘see inside’ when we are taking biopsies or samples. So if there’s fluid present where there shouldn’t be, we can see the needle on the ultrasound screen and direct it to the fluid to take a sample. The same process is used to direct a biopsy needle to get a sample of a growth. This can help your pet by avoiding the need for an operation to get these biopsies and samples.