Many of the internal organs can be scanned non-invasively including liver, kidneys, bowel, spleen, bladder, prostate, uterus, and heart. Information can be obtained on the size and texture of organs, which aids in the diagnosis of disease.
The ultrasound may also be used to guide a minimally invasive biopsy probe that enables collection of tissue samples without the need for large abdominal incisions. Ultrasounds provide the most reliable form of pregnancy diagnosis for dogs and cats.
In addition, Colour Doppler Ultrasound is a technology that allows the measurement of directional blood flow through the heart, as well as blood flow velocity. This information is important in the assessment of some heart defects, especially heart disease of kittens and puppies.
Ultrasound during Pregnancy
Ultrasound pregnancy confirmation is possible as early as day 20-22 after breeding, but can be missed this early. Ultrasound at day 30 post breeding is a great diagnositc tool to confirm pregnancy. Ultrasound has the drawback of not being accurate to count puppies, but can determine heartbearts in the puppies.
Ultrasonography is the ideal modality for evaluating the canine pregnancy for many reasons. You can assess the following easily with most ultrasound machines:
- Foetal Heart Rate (FHR)
- Foetal Movement
Canine foetal heart rates: what’s normal & abnormal?
- The normal foetal heart rate should be >220bpm
- If foetal heart rate is <180 bpm or excessive foetal movement is detected, this is an indicator of foetal distress and hypoxia.
- If foetal heart rate is <160 bpm, immediate surgical intervention is indicated to prevent foetal death!
Ultrasound examinations of the liver and biliary tract is beneficial when the following signs are noted clinically or radiographically: icterus, microhepatica, hepatomegaly, or liver mass.
Indications for ultrasonography of the spleen include radiographic detection of splenomegaly, splenic mass lesions (ruling out hemangiosarcoma and other neoplasms), peritoneal effusion, and potential neoplastic metastasis of mast cell tumor and lymphosarcoma
Renal ultrasound is often indicated, when abnormal size and shape of the kidneys are palpated or abnormal shape, size, and/or opacity are seen on radiographs. In addition, abnormalities in the renal parameters in serum chemistry and urinalysis call for renal ultrasound.
Indications include hematuria, dysuria, and abnormal urine cytology (e.g., transitional cell carcinoma).
The Prostate Gland
Ultrasound study of the prostate is indicated when irregular, asymmetric prostatomegaly is palpated. In addition, a radiographically enlarged prostate should be examined by ultrasound to determine its internal architecture
What is an echocardiogram used for?
An echocardiogram is used as a diagnostic tool, enabling your veterinary sonographer to visualize the structure of your pet’s heart. In doing so, the echocardiogram can provide crucial information about the health and function of her heart that includes:
- How big her heart is
- How thick the walls of her heart are
- The shape of her heart
- How effectively her heart is pumping
- Whether she has any abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow or any possible blood clots
- Whether there are any abnormalities present in the valves
- Whether there are any abnormalities in the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart)
- Whether there are any areas of damage to the heart
An echocardiogram can identify a range of heart problems including, but not limited to:
Congestive heart failure
Congenital (present from birth) heart defects that may require treatment / special care
Damage to the heart, heart valves or pericardium