The ultrasound study is one of the most important diagnostics available to the veterinarian. Utilizing an ultrasound machine is one of the most efficient, non-invasive means to help a veterinarian diagnose a pet's illness. The machine uses a small probe that produces high frequency sound waves and measures how much of those waves are echoed back. This is similar to how bats or dolphins "see" with such precision at night or under water. A computer in the ultrasound machine uses the information and turns the echoed sound into a two or three-dimensional image. This technology allows a veterinarian to look inside of the body, inside of the individual organs, and to even watch the organs move and work. We can use this information to quickly and accurately diagnose MANY internal diseases with no discomfort to your pet.
Here at the Seaford Animal Hospital, we utilize this technology on a daily basis. The ultrasound machine helps our doctors diagnose patients with a variety of concerns and ailments. We study hearts for evidence of valve problems, abnormal beating, tumors, problems with contractility, and presence of abnormal fluid. The doctors may also evaluate tumors hiding under the skin before surgery to determine the best way to safely remove the tumor. We study abdominal organs to evidence of disease, tumors or cancer, birth defects, and to determine if a surgery is needed. The ultrasound machine is also utilized for guiding small needles into a pet's bladder or some abdominal tumors to obtain samples sent to outside laboratories for analysis. We at Seaford Animal Hospital are happy to utilize our safe, high resolution machine for viewing puppies and kittens within the womb of their pregnant mothers.
Not only does the ultrasound study help diagnose life, we use it to save lives, prevent needless surgical pain for your pet, and needless expenses to you. One such example involves a four year old, active Australian cattle dog. On a routine physical examination, he was found to have an enlarged spleen. The spleen is an organ in the abdomen that is part of the immune system with a heavy blood supply. Using the ultrasound machine, we were able to image the inside of the spleen and find an irregular nodule. This is a diagnosis that could not be possible with radiographs (X-ray imaging). With guidance from the ultrasound, we were able to place a needle into the nodule, obtain a small sample, and send it to a pathologist for analysis. Based on that diagnosis, the dog received the appropriate medications and exercise restriction. Being the nodule was benign, we were able to make it disappear and shrink the spleen to a normal size. Thus, with the assistance of the ultrasound study, we prevented a life-threatening fractured spleen, saved the dog from an invasive and painful surgery, and enabled him to keep his spleen intact, to help his immune system for years to come. His owners were equally pleased that their beloved pet was spared an unnecessary surgery to remove the spleen, and they saved a tremendous amount of money on inappropriate diagnostics and treatments.
Conversely, a small cat returned home after roaming the neighborhood for a weekend. She was a very sick kitty, vomiting, lethargic, and not wanting to eat. Within forty minutes of examination, our veterinarian was able to diagnose an obstruction from a string, get the cat into surgery, and remove the obstruction before the string sawed through the intestine. Without this ultrasound study, the cat would have needed radiographs and potentially extensive blood work to find out what was causing her illness. And when time means the difference between fixing an obstruction or a sawed intestine, between a speedy recovery or death, this cat's owners were excited their beloved pet was treated and returned home for good the next evening.