Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, is a non-invasive procedure used to evaluate the internal organs. This is most commonly used to further evaluate the abdominal organs such as the liver, spleen, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and adrenal glands. Ultrasound can also be used to evaluate the heart and other soft tissues such as the parathyroid glands.

How is an ultrasound performed?
At AVS, an ultrasound is a scheduled procedure performed by a board certified internal medicine specialist or a board certified radiology specialist. If your veterinarian recommends that your pet have an abdominal ultrasound or you feel your pet may need an abdominal ultrasound, we may ask that you do not feed your dog or cat the morning of the procedure. Food in the stomach can make visualization of some of the abdominal organs difficult. When you bring your pet to AVS we will take him or her to our treatment area to prepare for and perform the ultrasound. To prepare your pet for the ultrasound, we will shave the hair from the area that is going to be examined. The ultrasound probe needs to have close contact with the skin to produce images so the hair needs to be removed in the area being examined. Next the patient is placed in position for the ultrasound. For an abdominal ultrasound this means they will need to lie on their back. Since the procedure can take 30-45 minutes, we lay them on their back in a padded trough to increase the comfort of lying in this position for an extended amount of time. Warmed ultrasound gel is applied to the shaved area to ensure close contact of the ultrasound probe and skin which improves the resolution of the images. All the organs are evaluated and pictures or videos are obtained as needed. When the ultrasound is finished, the doctor will discuss the ultrasound results and show pictures or videos when appropriate. 

What are the benefits of ultrasound?
Abdominal ultrasound can be used to look at the internal architecture of organs, something that cannot be seen on X-rays. For example, a tumor within the bladder could be seen on ultrasound but would not be able to be seen on X-rays. We can also use the ultrasound to obtain needle aspirates to collect samples of fluid, such as urine, for analysis or samples of tissue, such as the liver or a tumor.  Cardiac ultrasound, also known as echocardiography, can be used to further evaluate the function and structure of the heart.  

What are the risks of ultrasound?
There are no risks to performing the ultrasound. Some patients need to be sedated for the procedure and risks of sedating of your pet will be discussed before the procedure.