Ultrasound technology is another form of radiology that helps veterinarians to visualize the inner workings of a pet’s body. Ultrasound images use sound waves to create a “bounce-back” captured by a machine.
Unlike x-rays which produce 2D static images, ultrasounds create 3D real-time videos of bodily systems. Ultrasounds create better images of soft tissues and fluid-filled structures than other forms of radiology.
Like digital x-rays, ultrasounds are painless and noninvasive. There is no risk of complication associated with ultrasounds– they are completely safe. The same imaging technology is commonly used to view human fetuses during pregnancy. The procedure for taking an ultrasound is similar to the procedure for taking an x-ray. A veterinarian or assistant will help safely restrain the animal so that they will be still during the reading. A cooling gel will be applied to the area and the Ultrasonographer will use a wand-like instrument against their skin to create the ultrasound. In most cases, the area may need to be shaved so it can be easily reached by the instrument.
In veterinary practices, ultrasounds are most commonly used to view the heart and lungs. Ultrasounds can diagnose conditions such as heart murmurs, deformities, foreign body ingestion, pregnancy, pancreatitis (a common and life-threatening disease of the pancreas), infected gallbladders, enlarged lymph nodes, and more.
Because of their accuracy and safety, ultrasounds are one of the most useful veterinary tools available when diagnosing conditions of the organs and abdomen. Conditions that would have required a surgery to diagnose in the past can now be treated safely and noninvasively with information gathered during ultrasounds.
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