What is Ultrasonography?
Ultrasonography uses reflected sound waves to create a picture of what is inside your pet's body. It is a noninvasive, nonpainful way to diagnose and stage many common diseases. Ultrasound is the best imaging method to evaluate fluid-filled and soft-tissue organs.
How does it work?
Using nonionizing, high-frequency sound waves, the ultrasound equipment collects reflected 'echoes' to generate a viewable image of the inside of the patient's body. The sound waves bounce off of dense areas, which will appear whiter or brighter in the ultrasound image; they pass through less dense areas, such as tissue or fluid, and these areas will appear darker. The term, 'echogenicity' refers to areas of brightness or whiteness depicting density in an ultrasound.
When Is Ultrasonography Utilized?
Radiographs cannot differentiate soft tissue '" it appears as a gray shadow around bone structures on film. Ultrasonography cannot penetrate bone, but can image soft tissues and detect the presence of fluid, such as blood or urine. It can show the structure of the body's various organs, such as the liver, spleen, and uterus. The ability, through ultrasound, to visualize abnormalities can help detect tumors and other kinds of problems. Ultrasound is valuable in cardiology, where it can be used to monitor the flow of blood in the heart and the contractions of the heart muscle, and to assess structural defects. Ultrasonography is also useful in breeding animals to assess fetal health and monitor gestation. Many problems that cannot be seen on radiographs can be visualized using ultrasonography. These include:
- Congenital defects
- Muscular (tendon) abnormalities
- Heart problems
Structures such as nodules and masses can be located, counted, and measured using ultrasonography.
Ultrasonography In Cancer Diagnosis And Treatment
Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspirates can help diagnose or rule out cancer. Ultrasonography is also helpful when a veterinarian is attempting to 'stage' a pet's cancer or detect signs of metastasis to organs other than a primary tumor site. It also has a role in the ongoing monitoring of a patient's response to cancer therapy.
Ultrasonography In Abdominal Disease Diagnosis And Treatment
Veterinary ultrasonography has been utilized since the 1980s, and it has revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of many serious diseases. Ultrasound allows veterinarians to visualize the following abdominal organs:
- Gall bladder
- Adrenal glands
- Urinary bladder
- Sections of the stomach and intestine
The Ultrasonography Exam: What to Expect
In most cases, your pet will be awake during the ultrasound examination. Tranquilizers and anesthesia generally are not required. The patient should not be fed on the day of the procedure. Withholding of water is unnecessary. The haircoat will be clipped over the area to be scanned. This allows the probe to be placed directly next to the skin as the ultrasound cannot penetrate through hair. A nonirritating coupling or transmission gel will be placed on your pet's skin prior to the examination. This gel provides lubrication, allowing the probe to slide over the skin. It also prevents any air from getting between the probe and the tissue being scanned. The exam is noninvasive and painless and typically takes between 20 and 40 minutes to complete.
Echocardiography: Showing The Heart At Work
Cardiac ultrasonography, or echocardiography, is a sophisticated diagnostic tool that allows for the visual examination of the interior of the heart, its valves, and it's surrounding structures. When combined with other components of a comprehensive cardiac workup, it provides veterinary cardiologists with a complete diagnostic picture of your pet's illness in order to outline an optimal treatment course. Echocardiography types include M-Mode echocardiography, which provides a black and white, cross-sectional, narrow view of the heart tissues, and Color Flow Doppler echocardiography, which provides a visual display of blood flow throughout the heart, identifying both direction and speed. The color indicates the direction of the blood flow in the heart, while its brightness or intensity indicates how fast the blood is flowing.