Exploring the Value of Ultrasound Machines in Animal Clinics

Posted on: 12 April 2017

Just as an x-ray machine is used for looking at the skeletal system of humans and their pets, an ultrasound machine is used to look at a living organism's organs, such as the liver, intestines, and kidneys. A veterinary practice that has an ultrasound machine can better able diagnose health problems in their patients and bring peace of mind sooner to the owners. Here is how an ultrasound machine can improve veterinarian healthcare.

In What Capacities Can an Ultrasound Aid a Veterinarian?

While most people think of pregnant women when they think of ultrasounds, these machines have far greater capacity than that. When an animal patient presents with an unknown ailment, ultrasound technology can aid in the following areas:

  • Bloodwork comes back abnormal
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent diarrhea or chronic constipation, both of which could indicate a bowel obstruction
  • Recurring infections with an unknown cause
  • Staging a cancer diagnosis
  • Urinary tract issues
  • Ascites and pulmonary edema
  • Baseline ultrasound in older animals
  • Pre-surgical exams or biopsy assistance
  • Pregnancy

What Can Be Determined With an Ultrasound Machine?

An ultrasound machine allows a veterinarian to see the size, texture, shape, and position of the internal organs. Other soft tissues and masses, such as tumors, can also be seen. Sometimes these are cancerous, but often they will turn out to just be a benign growth, not uncommon with aging. This is where repeated ultrasounds are used to chart any further changes or to perform an ultrasound-guided needle aspirate to remove fluid from the mass and do further testing. Blood flow to the organs can also be seen, which can help determine if there is any blockage anywhere.

A sonogram, or an ultrasound, of the heart is called an echocardiogram. This procedure can determine if the heart chambers and valves are functioning properly, the rate of blood flow, and other issues that may be indicative of heart disease.

Another way ultrasound can be useful is with narrowing down a diagnosis. For example, a dog who presents with an inability to hold his urine and seems to be in pain may have a urinary tract infection. His urinalysis may show signs of bacteria. But it's also possible that he may have bladder stones rather than a urinary tract infection. An ultrasound examination can confirm this rather than prescribing antibiotics and waiting to see they aren't working. 

As more and more veterinarians see the value of ultrasound machines, this technology will become necessary to compete in the field. Go to sites that discuss veterinary ultrasounds for more information.