Ultrasound scanning is a painless procedure that uses high frequency sound waves (inaudible to humans) to produce images of structures within the body. When sound waves are aimed into the body, some are absorbed by body tissues and others bounce back. The sound waves that bounce back are measured by the ultrasound machine and are transformed into an image of a particular body area.


When ultrasound scanning should be used


Ultrasonography is most useful for looking at soft or fluid filled organs like the liver, kidney, bladder and heart. It is less effective for examining mineralised structures (like bones) or air-filled organs (like the lungs).


Preparing for an ultrasound


Here are some important steps that need to be taken before your pet has an ultrasound procedure.


     •Do not feed your pet after 10 pm the night before their procedure. Fasting is important as a full stomach will make imaging organs around the stomach difficult (liver, adrenals etc). Water is permitted.


     •Please do not let your pet urinate within 3 hours before their study. A full or partially full urinary bladder is very helpful for a complete examination.


Will your pet need to be sedated?


Most of our patients will not need sedation. However, if your pet is very anxious or painful, sedation may be helpful. It will also be indicated if a tissue biopsy is required. We will inform you if there are any contraindications to sedation.


A note on hair


After the procedure you may notice that your pet has been clipped. The hair on the abdomen (for abdominal ultrasound) or on the chest wall (thoracic ultrasound) will be shaved prior to the examination. This is necessary as the presence of hair obstructs the ultrasound waves and causes "blackout" on the picture. Blackout prevents us from obtaining the best possible view.


After the ultrasound


Following the examination the veterinary ultrasound specialist and your veterinarian will discuss the findings. Your veterinarian will call you after the ultrasound to discuss the findings and to recommend treatments if any clinical problems are found with your pet.