Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ultrasound For Your Pet

Ultrasound is a valuable tool in the medical field. Over the last decade ultrasound has been used more and more in veterinary medicine to aid in important diagnostics. We all know ultrasound is used frequently in human medicine, but what, exactly, are it's uses in the veterinary field?

Like people, ultrasound can be used to examine a variety of organs, for a variety of reasons. For example, in an abdominal ultrasound, the doctor will look at the stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, gallbladder, bladder, spleen, and adrenal glands. Sometimes they can also look for more detailed images like blood flow and determining pregnancy.

Cardiologists can perform an ultrasound on the heart called an echocardiogram, or "echo." During an echo the thickness of the heart's wall can be measured, as well as the size of the heart's chambers and assessment of the heart valves.

Most importantly, ultrasound is used to detect abnormalities. Masses, benign or malignant can be often be seen on ultrasound. Certain diseases like pancreatitis will show up on ultrasound as well.

Some imporant things to note about ultrasound: 1. There is no radiation. Unlike x-rays, radiation is not part of an ultrasound examination. 2. Your pet's fur will most likely be shaved over the area being ultrasounded. 3. Anesthesia is not required, sometimes, however, it does help when a patient is uncomfortable to have them slightly sedated. 4. Since the ultrasound waves will not pass through air, ultrasound can not be used to examine the lungs. 5. Bone also stops ultrasound waves, therefore the brain, spinal cord, and obviously the bones themselves can not be assessed with ultrasound.