Benefits of Ultrasound in Small Animal Medicine

Written by Deanna Sayle, RVT

Ultrasound machines produce sound waves above the human hearing range. These sound waves are produced when electric current is applied to piezoelectric crystals in the ultrasound probe. The current causes the crystals to oscillate creating a sound wave that is transmitted through the body. The crystals in the probe also receive the sound waves that are reflected back. Returning sound waves are converted to electric signals called echoes and displayed on a monitor as black, white and various shades of grey.

Low intensity echoes; fewer reflected sound waves, display on the monitor as black, medium intensity echoes show up as various shades of grey and high intensity echoes; numerous reflected sound waves, show up as white.

A skilled ultrasonographer learns how to identify the various organs and systems in the body by the various colours (echogenicities) reflected on the screen as well as the texture (echo texture) and the shape. This makes ultrasound a very valuable diagnostic tool to identify abnormalities inside the body without invasive procedures like exploratory surgery. Ultrasound is not 100% specific for disease but when used in conjunction with clinical signs and other diagnostic tests such as bloodwork and radiographs a list of most likely diagnosis can be determined. Examples of the more common abnormalities identified by ultrasound in our clinic are bladder stones, kidney disease, abdominal tumours, foreign bodies, inflammation of gastrointestinal tract and heart disease. Ultrasound is also commonly used to determine pregnancy as well as viability of the fetuses and staging the time of gestation. Although counting fetuses is not recommended by use of ultrasound it is always fun to try!

If you suspect that your pet needs an ultrasound or are looking for pet ultrasounds in the Brantford area, please get in touch with Park Road Veterinary Clinic. Our skilled technicians & doctors are prepared to help!