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Why Would My Pet Need an Ultrasound?

Most of us have heard of an ultrasound and know that it is a common diagnostic procedure for humans. However, they are also used on animals as a valuable way to detect and diagnose medical issues or conditions.


An ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that a veterinarian can use to help identify what may be happening inside the body of your pet. As we know, animals can’t explain their symptoms and what might be wrong with them, so ultrasounds can be a useful tool to help your veterinarian make a diagnosis.


What is a Pet Ultrasound and How Does it Work?


Whether human or animal, ultrasounds are identical in the way that they work. Ultrasound technology is based on soundwaves, which are used to create visual images of the area being investigated.


Before an ultrasound can be carried out, the first step is to prepare the area where it will be performed. In most cases, the area in question will be shaved clean of fur to ensure the best, clearest results, before a special gel is applied. This gel helps to conduct the soundwaves from the device into your pet’s body more efficiently. Your veterinarian (or a veterinary radiologist) will then apply the handheld device used to carry out the scan to the area in question and move it around if necessary to generate the images required for diagnosis.


These soundwaves are completely harmless. Some will be absorbed by your pet’s body, and some bounce back. It is the waves that bounce back, called echoes, that create the image that your veterinarian will see. One significant advantage of ultrasounds is that the veterinarian can see the images in real-time and make any movements and adjustments to the application of the device to ensure they get the best image possible of the area being scanned.


So, Why Might Your Pet Require an Ultrasound?


While health problems in pets will usually manifest symptoms, these are not often immediate. Since our pets can’t talk to us and tell us what’s wrong, they rely entirely on us picking up clues. If we suspect that our pet might be ill or they have other unexplained lab work abnormalities, ultrasounds are a valuable diagnostic tool. However, in many cases, an ultrasound will be combined with further testing, such as X-Rays, blood tests, or biopsies to confirm a diagnosis. These additional tests don’t devalue the use of ultrasound, as it can be a crucial tool in determining if further checks are needed.


Ultrasounds can be used to diagnose many different issues. However, it is particularly effective to see internal organs, such as the heart, liver, and bladder.


Ultrasounds can be effective in the diagnosis of conditions such as:


  • Liver damage and functional issues

  • Narrowing or leaking of heart valves

  • Prostate inflammation

  • Lymph node abnormalities

  • Pancreatitis

  • Tumors, benign or cancerous

  • Kidney damage and functional issues

  • Gallbladder infections and Gallstones- Intestinal blockages


Ultrasounds can also be used to assist in the biopsy process called ultrasound-guided aspiration. These are used to help guide surgical equipment to the area in question to ensure that the biopsy is taken correctly while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue. Many veterinarians prefer to carry out biopsies using this method for increased accuracy. It is also less invasive, meaning little to no significant scarring for your pet.


Finally, just like in humans, ultrasounds can be used to monitor pregnancy in female pets. It can often tell whether they are all viable pregnancies and help calculate when they are likely to be born. If your pet is pregnant, it can be valuable to have them undergo routine ultrasounds during their pregnancy.


For more on pet ultrasounds, call Animal Emergency Center of Killeen in Killeen, Texas at (254) 628-5017 today.

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