Ultrasound technology uses sound waves that reflect off the internal organs, creating images. Ultrasound is a noninvasive test that is performed most commonly on the chest and abdominal cavities to facilitate evaluation of organ structure and function to often allow diagnosis of disease without having to perform more invasive procedures such as surgery. With ultrasound, sound waves are used to image solid organs such as the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder, etc. It is sometimes performed in conjunction with bloodwork and/or radiographs (x-rays).
Ultrasound of the abdomen allows for visualization of abdominal organs including liver, gallbladder, spleen, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, uterus (females), and prostate (males). Just like in humans, ultrasound is very useful for pregnancy screening and monitoring. It also allows for a noninvasive diagnosis of many abdominal conditions including but not limited to tumors, obstructions, and congenital disease. Additionally, ultrasound can allow for non-invasive sampling of fluid or tissue via ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration (sucking up fluid or cells). Many times such procedures do not even require sedation as they cause little to no discomfort. For more extensive samples, ultrasound can even be used to obtain biopsies with sedation in some cases.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM (CARDIAC ULTRASOUND)
Cardiac ultrasound allows for evaluation of heart size and function. The thickness of the heart walls, the size of the heart chambers, the appearance of the heart valves, and the strength of the heart contraction can be determined. Color Flow Doppler imaging allows for visualization of the blood as it travels through the heart. It can be used to identify many congenital heart defects as well as evaluating heart valve function. Cardiac ultrasound is also used to screen clinically normal pets that are at risk for heart disease. It is a very useful tool for not only determining if disease is present but also in evaluating its severity, candidacy for anesthesia or certain therapies, and the efficacy of various treatments.