Ultrasound is a non-invasive and safe procedure that uses sound waves to produce pictures of your pet’s internal organs. Second only to MRI and CT scans, ultrasound gives us a lens into your pet's health not achieved by conventional bloodwork, radiographs, or physical examination.
Learn more below!
WHAT IS AN ULTRASOUND?
Diagnostic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves that are pulsed into the body. The sound waves are reflected back to the transducer by boundaries between tissues in the path of the beam (e.g. the boundary between fluid and soft tissue or tissue and bone). Returning echoes are then analyzed by a computer to yield high-resolution cross-sectional images of organs, tissues, and blood flow.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ULTRASOUND AND RADIOGRAPH (X-ray)?
Radiographs are a 2-dimensional snapshot of the patient using electromagnetic radiation (similar to microwaves, radio waves, ultraviolet light, etc.). This diagnostic is best to evaluate organ size, organ position relative to others, orthopedic/bone disease, and patterns of disease (gas patterns). Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of individual structures in the patient. This is better for evaluating the internal structure of individual organs and organs that are not defined on radiographs (adrenal glands, lymph nodes, etc.).
ARE THERE LIMITATIONS TO AN ULTRASOUND?
Your pet's body is a masterpiece of balance and harmony. Disease can be a sneaky beast that likes to hide in any way possible. This is true for many diseases and it can take a multi-modal approach to determine if a problem truly exists. This is most notable in ultrasound where the smallest changes can mean big problems and big abnormalities may be something simple like a normal aging change. An example of this are tumors that can be found in the spleen. When we see tumors in this area they can be benign (Myelolipoma, nodular hyperplasia) or neoplastic (primary or metastatic). Even with these limitations ultrasound is the most efficient and least invasive way to look WITHIN ORGANS. Beyond ultrasound, CT and MRI are necessary to evaluate structural disease within organs or vessels.
WHY DO AN ULTRASOUND IF IT MAY BE INCONCLUSIVE?
Diagnostic ultrasound is a non-invasive and efficient way to look within the body. We correlate these findings with how the patient is clinically, radiographs, bloodwork, and other testing to determine if disease is present. Many structures can also be sampled with the assistance of ultrasound to determine disease is present or not. Look below to see some of the AMAZING things diagnosed on ultrasound that would have been missed otherwise!
An adrenal mass was found on a routine ultrasound screening on an older patient that was not showing any apparent clinical signs at home. This is one finding that can be normal/benign in older patients and warrants further diagnostics and monitoring.
The top image shows a normal adrenal gland which looks like a flattened peanut (outlined in black).
The second image show the enlarged adrenal gland (looks like a snowman on his side) outlined by calipers that measures the structure.
The bottom picture shows the bloodflow in the area (helps to confirm this to be the adrenal gland). The small blue dot just above the snowman/adrenal gland is the phrenicoabdominal vein that confirms this is the adrenal gland.
The ureter is the tube that transports urine from the kidney to the bladder. A ureterocele is a ballooning of the ureter where it connects to the bladder. In this video the black ovalish structure is the bladder. To the right you will notice the oval comes to a v-shaped end (this is where the bladder connects to the urethra). In this area you will see a small circle develop and get larger. This is the balloon called a ureterocele.
Any time there is turbulence in blood flow a clot can form. Heart disease in cats can cause this turbulence and lead to a "saddle thrombus" which is a clot that travels down the aorta and lodges where it branches by the back legs. This clot obstructs blood supply to the rear legs and is a painful condition. Any time we have a patient (especially feline patients) that acutely have trouble using their rear legs, rear paws are cold to the touch compared to the front ones, and a history or heart disease or murmur this is the most likely diagnosis. This image is of a clot obstructing the aorta causing these clinical signs in a feline patient.
ULTRASOUND FOUND SOMETHING UNEXPECTED!
Click on images to magnify
HOW CAN I HAVE MY PET SCREEN WITH ULTRASOUND?
Call Trinity Veterinary Hospital and talk with your primary veterinarian to discuss that you would like to have your pet screened. To perform the ultrasound the patient has to lie still on their back so some sedation may be needed. If Dr. Kent Williams or Dr. Carey Bonds agree that this would be safe for your pet, an ultrasound can be scheduled. Any abnormalities will be noted and shared with your primary veterinarian and if additional diagnostics are needed it will be discussed with the owner. At this point we are only performing abdominal ultrasound and have plans to add thoracic at some point within the next year. Be prepared that the abdominal hair (and possibly some of the sides of the chest) will be shaved to allow the best possible images to be obtained.
All ultrasounds will be performed by Dr. Carey Bonds