The Value of Ultrasound in Pet Medicine

Advances in veterinary medicine are coming at a fast and furious pace.  Today your pet can have immunotherapy to treat allergies, a CT or MRI,  Radioimmunotherapy or Stereotactic Radiosurgery (it’s kinda like Cyberknife) to treat cancers.  At one time, an ultrasound machine was a fancy tool to be used by universities.  It has, over the years, become more commonly found in general practice and is an invaluable tool for the internist, cardiologist and yes, even the general practitioner.  

An ultrasound is a machine that emits and receives sound waves and turns those waves into images.  They let us see inside the body through many tissues, giving your veterinarian a more in depth understanding of the workings of your pet’s liver, kidneys, intestines, urinary tract and heart.  The same technology used by your human internist is also harnessed by your veterinarian to assist in rapid and accurate diagnosis of heart disease, cancer, liver disease, pancreatitis and bladder stones, for example.  The images can be evaluated in house or sent through the internet to be evaluated by a board certified radiologist, just like people.  


The ability to get an inside look and further clarify the results of, say, your pet’s bloodwork or an ambiguous x-ray, really helps the veterinarian to more thoroughly understand the nature of your pet’s condition, and facilitates accurate diagnosis and treatment.  This, in turn, helps our furbabies get healthier faster and stay that way longer.  A case in point can be found in the case of one of our pet clients.  We had an older boston terrier that whose owner noticed  blood in the urine.  This little fella was very uncomfortable and was and was having a hard time going to the bathroom.  Now, there are many different conditions that can cause these symptoms, like a clotting abnormality, urinary tract infection, bladder stones, even bladder cancer.  X-rays would help with identifying bladder stones, but not bladder cancer.  And, some bladder stones don’t show up on x-rays.  An ultrasound was chosen to evaluate this little guy further, and, to our surprise there was no stones and thankfully no bladder cancer.  He did, however have an enlarged prostate that was putting pressure on his urethra (where the pee comes out) preventing normal bathroom function.  This guy had BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy–yep just like men) and was eventually neutered which resolved his condition.  Thanks to effective use of this non invasive tool we were able to help our little Boston Terrier friend feel better in a rapid and efficient way!