Dec 25

Get Your Ailing Pet to an Ultrasound Technician!

Diagnosing an older, ailing pet can be tricky – without the ability for them to tell us about internal pain we vets sometimes have to resort to other means. An ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging method allowing internal body structures to be examined by recording echoes or reflections of ultrasonic waves. It provides a high quality of care for your animals as well. Traditionally we only consider ultrasound to be for pregnant women, but there are plenty of cases where a pet would benefit from having ultrasound tests done.

Truth About Cost

Ultrasound machines and paying highly qualified technicians to use them can lead to a high bill – these costs get passed down to the owners. Salaries for ultrasound technicians are high, and this is a cost to pet owners as well. However; the invaluable effectiveness in examining the internal organs, assessing heart function and eye diseases as well as pregnancy diagnosis make the costs well worth it. Pet insurance can help quite a bit with this, but ultimately cost is a huge factor that must be decided upon before diagnosing and treating an animal.

How an Ultrasound Works

The echoes that are returned to the probe are converted into an image; that are then displayed on a monitor. The images display as 2 dimensional pictures of the tissues being examined. This is an invaluable technique for examining internal organs. Veterinarians began using ultrasounds for pregnancy diagnoses; and are now used to evaluate heart conditions as well as to identify changes in abdominal organs. Diagnoses for cysts and tumors associated with cancers can also be done with ultrasound.

Pets who need an ultrasound are not put in any pain or distress – in general they lie comfortably while the scan is taken. Sedatives are sometimes used for scared or agitated animals. Fur on a pet maybe shaved due to the waves not being able to travel through air; and it is important the probe make contact with the skin. In the case of pregnancy, moistening the hair with rubbing alcohol and using a small amount of water-soluble gel will be adequate to get the ultrasound images.

Immediate results are known with ultrasounds as they are real-time. In some cases a radiologist is asked to consult on the results which may delay diagnosis, but generally you will know the same day as the appointment.

The ultrasound is truly a great test for a pet as it is noninvasive and pain-free. The pet’s liver, lymph nodes, eyes, pancreas, spleen, testicles and other soft organs can all be seen with the ultrasound images.

Related Tools

An X-ray is often used for internal conditions as well – however, it uses radiation and only reveals the size and shape of organs. An ultrasound will provide a complete internal view of the organs structure. There may be times with it is beneficial to the pet to have both an X-ray and an ultrasound as the results between the two tests give a very complete picture of what is happening inside the animal. Overall the X-ray is a cheaper tool and would likely be used first to diagnose internal problems, but if it doesn’t give enough information, an ultrasound may be in order.

One of the most used ultrasounds on pets is the electrocardiogram. This test is used to exam the pet’s heart. The electrocardiogram can measure the heart’s wall thickness and also the size of the chamber. This test can also provide an assessment of the heart’s ability to move blood; which tells if the valves are working.

Of course you should always discuss diagnostic tools, health problems, and the path forward with your vet to determine what is best for your loved pet. We all strive to give our pets the best possible life, and an ultrasound may be the thing to help maintain your pet’s health.