What is an ultrasound scan?
An ultrasound scan is a method for studying the internal body structures using very high pitched sound frequencies. It allows us to pick up any changes occurring within the organs in the body as well as visualize the internal architecture of many organs.
Regular radiographs (x-rays) allow determination of the sizes and shapes of structures within the body, but they do not allow for visualisation inside of these structures. Ultrasound is a safe and painless diagnostic test that can provide useful information about the body without invasive surgery, and can provide further information that an x-ray cannot.
How do I prepare my pet for an ultrasound?
Ultrasounds are usually scheduled ahead of time, and are admitted at 9.30am, like our surgical procedures. It is recommended to fast your pet from 10pm the night before the ultrasound, since an empty stomach helps to allow for thorough evaluation of the abdomen. Water is fine up until the time of your appointment and a full bladder can be helpful for imaging of the bladder.
If you wish to speak to our vet prior to your pet’s admission, please let us know, and we can schedule an appointment that same morning.
What happens during an Ultrasound?
During an ultrasound your pet is usually placed on their back on a padded table. Some animals seem to actually like the ultrasound process and often fall asleep during the exam. However some pets may become anxious and in those situations we can give them a sedative to help them relax. The hair on the underside of the belly is shaved and an ultrasound gel is applied to the skin to help with imaging. The images are then obtained by placing a transducer (a smooth handheld object) on your pet's skin and slowly moving around on the abdomen.
> How long does it take?
The duration of the scan would depend on whether it is a localised, single organ scan or if it involves multiple organs. In general, it will take about 30-40 minutes and the images are captured and saved as images for further viewing and evaluation. During the procedure, your pet would be gently placed on its side (depending on the areas to be scanned). Most animals tolerate this short period of restraint well.
The results of the scan will be explained to you when you pick your pet up from the clinic.
> Common uses for Ultrasonography
- Identifying cancers within the abdomen
- Pregnancy diagnosis (as early as 21 days post conception) and foetal growth charting
- Identifying abnormalities within the liver, kidneys, bladder, stomach, intestines, adrenal glands, pancreas, spleen, reproductive tract, and the heart.
- Pin pointing obstructions in the intestines (foreign bodies etc.)
- Identifying bladder and kidney stones that are not detected on x rays
- Assisting in the collection of tissue or fluid samples (i.e. from bladder, lymph nodes)