Abdominal ultrasound and echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) allows us to look at the texture and size of certain organs in the abdomen and chest, giving us more information than x-rays alone. Ultrasound is noninvasive and not painful, and in most instances, can be done with the pet awake.
The hair is clipped on the abdomen or chest, and alcohol is used to wet the skin, providing better imaging. A small probe is placed on the skin over the abdomen or chest, and sound waves are transmitted which bounce off the organs, allowing us to see them on a computer screen.
We can also capture these images and send them via internet to a board certified radiologist or cardiologist to review, and they will fax a report, most often with 24 hours, or within 1 hour if a patient is critical.
The ultrasound can be used to guide us when getting punch biopsies or needle aspirates of the liver, or when draining fluid from the pericardial sac (sac around the heart) if present. With procedures sedation may be needed to keep the pet quiet, calm and comfortable.