Ultrasound: The Inside Look

Our mission is to always provide excellent care to all our patients and is what drives us to offer a wide range of diagnostics. One of those diagnostics is ultrasound.

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound images are created by using sound waves that bounce off of solid and/or fluid-filled structures. These structures include: heart, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder, lymph nodes, GI structures, thyroid gland and the eyeballs. Structures that are filled with air/gas (lungs, stomach, and intestines) allow the sound waves to pass through them, resulting in interference and less than perfect images (fasting an animal 12 hours prior to the ultrasound scan helps reduce the likely-hood of air/gas interference). Ultrasounds can be very useful in diagnosing many conditions, such as tumors, cysts, congenital malformations and pregnancy. It is a non-invasive imaging test that allows visual evaluation of the architecture of the heart as well as abdominal organs without the need for invasive surgery.

Echocardiogram (Heart Ultrasound)

Some ways that ultrasound is beneficial in diagnosing heart conditions and/or diseases.

  • Measuring the thickness of the heart’s internal muscles.
  • Being able to measure the size of the heart chambers.
  • Evaluating the function of the mitral valve, tricuspid valve, aortic valve and the pulmonary valve.
  • Evaluating the leaflets of the valves for thickness, prolapsed, and/or abnormal movement/closing.
  • Using measurements to evaluate the strength of the heart contractions.
  • The use of doppler color flow to look for regurgitation of blood back into chambers.
  • Using spectral flow to measure the degree of regurgitation.
  • Evaluating the heart for masses and/or blood clots as well as for fluid around the heart.

Being able to see not only the architecture of the heart but the heart function allows for the veterinarian to diagnose and treat accordingly. Performing echocardiograms early can show the early stages of some very common and serious heart conditions. Sometimes small changes can be seen on echocardiograms that are not seen on radiographs, bloodwork and/or physical exam. In these cases it allows for the veterinarian to start treatment to help slow the progression of heart changes.

Amanda Garrett – Certified in Advanced Small Animal Ultrasound. Allows earlier detection of illness and health conditions, better monitoring of ongoing diseases and an additional tool for diagnostics.

Abdominal Organs

Ultrasounding the abdomen allows for the veterinarian to see the architecture of organs. Listed below are the organs that are evaluated during the ultrasound exam.

Solid Structures

  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas
  • Lymph nodes
  • Spleen
  • Adrenal Glands
  • Prostate/Testicles
  • Ovaries/Uterus

Imaging solid structures allow for an inside look at the size and shape of organs. As well as any disease changes, lesions, cyst, masses/tumors, blood clots and/or dilation of vessels associated with abdominal organs.

Liquid/Gas Filled Structures

  • Gallbladder
  • Pylorus
  • Colon
  • Ureters
  • Bladder
  • Stomach
  • Small Intestines
  • Blood vessels
  • Urethra
  • Diaphragm

Imaging structures that are filled with either gas or liquid can be a challenge due to the shadows produced. It is still very important that these structures be elevated for any changes, lesions, masses, and/or disease.

Being able to have ultrasound in our “diagnostic mix” allows for our veterinarians to offer the best medicine to your furry loved one!