WHAT IS AN ULTRASOUND EXAM?
An ultrasound exam is a way of looking inside your pet’s body without having to perform surgery. The ultrasound machine sends sound waves into the body and then listens for the echoes. The machine then uses these echoes to form a picture of the inside of your pet! Don’t worry, these sound waves are too high in pitch for us, or any of our patients, to hear and produce no harmful effects as a diagnostic tool.
HOW DO I PREPARE MY PET FOR AN APPOINTMENT?
Your pet must be fasted at least 12 hours overnight (water is allowed). Food and gas make imaging organs and structures difficult. If your pet is very anxious, pants heavily, or will have difficulty staying calm during the exam, we recommend speaking with your primary veterinarian for a prescription of oral calming medications that can be given at home prior to the exam. On some occasions, to obtain a thorough study, mild sedation may be necessary.
WHAT WILL YOU BE ABLE TO TELL BY DOING THE ULTRASOUND EXAM?
Ultrasound allows us to examine internal organs for location, size, shape, texture and blood supply. Unfortunately, ultrasound does not always give us a clear picture of how well the specific organ is working. This may be determined by other tests such as bloodwork or additional imaging.
WHY DOES MY PET HAVE TO BE SHAVED?
To obtain the best ultrasound images possible, good contact between the ultrasound probe and your pet’s skin is necessary. Sound waves don’t like to travel through hair! Your pet will need to have the fur shaved from the area being scanned. You can expect the fur to grow back in several weeks. If it is cold weather and your pet spends time outdoors, you may wish to provide a sweater or vest while their fur re-grows.
CAN I BE THERE DURING THE ULTRASOUND?
Your pet will be brought by a trained veterinary technician to the ultrasound room. Due to the technical aspects of performing an ultrasound exam, we do not generally permit owners to accompany their pet to the ultrasound room. However, results of the imaging study will be shared after the end of the exam. By separating the ultrasound and the discussion, we can obtain the best images possible and focus on the needs of your pet during the exam. We appreciate your understanding.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS DURING THE EXAM PROCESS?
The ultrasound exam is performed on a padded table while your pet lies quietly in a dimly-lit room. Exams last for approximately 30 minutes; if the evaluation goes on longer than this time your pet will be given breaks to stretch. A water-based gel is applied to the area being examined and the ultrasound transducer is gently moved along your pet’s skin.
For the majority of the exam, minimal pressure is applied. Sometimes, to get a good picture, your pet may experience a slight “pushing” against their skin or may wiggle a little when we image a “ticklish” spot. Because of this, your pet will be gently restrained by the veterinary technician. Most pets will even relax enough to enjoy the undivided attention and ear rubs during the exam, while others get in a quick nap!
Pets who are very nervous or anxious may tense up their bellies or pant, making it difficult to get good images. In some cases we recommend calming medication for very nervous or anxious pets so that we can obtain the most information from our exam.
AFTER THE EXAM
After the exam, the doctor will discuss your pet’s results with you and make recommendations for follow up care or treatment for your peA preliminary verbal report will be given your primary veterinarian after the exam. Dr. Bacon or one of our specialists will finalize the written report within 24-72 hours (depending on the service) which will then be sent to your veterinarian for review. The report will include images and clips, along with an interpretation. After reviewing our report, your primary veterinarian will discuss specific findings with you and the next steps of your pet’s treatment plan. If your pet received medication or had any special procedures you will be given additional instructions at that time. A report about your visit will be sent to your regular veterinarian in 24-48 hours. STAT reporting is available upon request.
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