Where “X-rays” or radiography give us an idea of the size of the organs within the abdomen, ultrasound can give us an idea of the organ structure.
To enable the Vet to perform an ultrasound examination or “scan” the hair has to be clipped away from the area we are about to examine. In the case of an abdominal scan, a patch of hair is clipped from the underside of the belly from the umbilicus or navel to the inner thigh. Gel is then applied to the skin to enable good contact with the probe.
This tool enables us to assess the internal structure of the abdominal organs to detect infiltration of fibrous tissue, cysts, haemorrhage as well as neoplasia (cancer).
A common use for this equipment is in the investigation of the uterus to check for pregnancy as well as health of the foetus close to whelping/kittening. Likewise it is used in the detection of pyometra (infected uterus).
When neoplasia is suspected, ultrasonography can be used to guide us when taking biopsies to avoid any blood vessels or other vital structures.
By shaving an area on the side of the chest, we are able to assess the muscle thickness of the heart chambers, visualise how well they are contracting and note the amount of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion). In the latter case it would then be used to assist us in draining off this fluid when appropriate in a technique known as pericardio-centesis.