Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats or ships at sea. As the sound passes through the body, echoes are produced that can be used to identify how far away an object is, how large it is, its shape and its consistency (fluid, solid or mixed). As the sound echoes from the body’s fluids and tissues, the strength and character of the reflected waves are recorded. These echoes are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. The “live” images of the examination may be “frozen” to capture a still image.
As a diagnostic tool, ultrasound has a wide variety of uses in veterinary medicine, including:
Examining many of the body’s internal organs, including the heart, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, prostate, adrenal glands and urinary bladder. Since ultrasound emits no x-rays, it is very safe. There are no known risks or side effects associated with diagnostic ultrasound.
The benefits of ultrasound include:
- Provides a simple, painless and non-invasive imaging method for viewing structures within the body
- Uses no ionizing radiation (x-rays)
- Produces real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies
- Visualizes structure, movement and live function in the body’s organs and blood vessels
- Can often avoid the need for exploratory surgery to obtain information.
- Can provide an accurate diagnosis to guide the treatment of your pet.