Ultrasounds and Common Questions
Ultrasound provides many benefits for your pets – safety and non-invasiveness, its ability to tell us about what is going on inside an organ, and the fact that we can watch motion of those organs in 2- dimensional cross-section without using a scalpel!
Do ultrasounds hurt or cause stress?
- On the contrary, pets often enjoy being scanned – they get to lie on the table with a nurse patting them and the lights dimmed – so much so that most do not need to be sedated! The probe only requires light contact on the skin with ultrasound gel so it is a pain-free exercise (if your pet already has a sore abdomen we would provide pain relief and possibly sedation before the scan)
Why do I have to fast my pet before a scan?
- The liver, pancreas, kidneys and top of the spleen, to mention a few, are near the stomach – if the stomach is full, it obscures the image due to food from the stomach.
Why do you have to shave my pet’s abdominal skin?
- The ultrasound probe needs to contact skin in order for the ultrasonic wave to pass through – fur harbours tiny air pockets that disrupt the image.
Is ultrasound dangerous?
- Definitely not! Ultrasound waves are just high frequency waves. Unlike radioactive waves, they pass through the body tissue with no interaction between the waves and the cells apart from a little heat. In fact, the waves hardly produce any heat at all in the body so it is even safe to scan a foetus.
I thought the ultrasound was all you needed to diagnose what type of tumour my pet has. Why are you doing more tests?
- Ultrasound is great at seeing detail in the architecture of the body, but it can’t see the type of cells in the problem area. For this, we sometimes take a sample via a needle or we will need to do surgery to take a sample of tissue to examine. Ultrasound helps guide the tests in the correct direction so we can hopefully have a speedier resolution to your pet’s condition.
If ultrasound is so good, why use xrays at all?
- Both have their place: we use xrays for detail in very dense areas like the skeleton and air-filled areas such as the lungs, and ultrasound for detail in “soft” areas like the abdomen and inside the heart.