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As veterinary science has evolved, new technologies have enabled veterinarians to see far beyond what's possible with the naked eye. In addition to X-rays techniques that can photograph hard structures inside the body, we can actually "see with sound" via ultrasonography (ultrasound diagnostic imaging). This method of using reflected sound waves to see inside the body in real time offers some important advantages for diagnosing a variety of issues -- and we're happy to provide it for your pet here at Forest Hill Animal Hospital.
Ultrasonography works by emitting high-frequency sound waves into the body. The waves are bounced back off of the internal structures, forming a picture based on tissue density. Our veterinarian in Germantown schedules ultrasonography to look at the puppies or kittens developing in a pregnant pet's womb. This method is also useful for evaluating internal soft tissues such as growths, cysts, and tumors. Ultrasonography has a major advantage over radiography (X-rays) because it can show the differences between soft tissues and fluids with greater clarity. This makes it much easier to diagnose issues involving blood flow, fluid-filled organs or fluid accumulation in the body (as might occur in an infection or organ failure).
Another reason we might choose ultrasonography over radiology when imaging your pet is to observe objects in motion. X-rays can only take still photographs of internal structures, but with ultrasound we can actually see whether an organ (or a fetus) is moving normally.
Veterinary ultrasonography is completely painless, and we can provide sedation if necessary just to keep your pet optimally still and relaxed. We will shave an area of fur so the handheld ultrasound device can make contact with skin. A gel that maximizes sound wave transmission is then added to the skin before placing the device on the skin and moving it around. Over the course of an hour or less, we can make a thorough examination of your pet's insides by watching a connected video monitor. Once we know exactly what's going on inside your pet's organs or blood vessels, we can prescribe any necessary treatment. You'll even get the chance to get a "sneak peek" at those puppies and kittens who are about to join your household!
Our veterinarians may suggest an ultrasound for one of the following reasons:
Vomiting or diarrhea that has lasted for a long time
Weight loss with no change in eating habits
Change in urinary habits
Baseline ultrasound for future examination (geriatric patients)
Recheck on a previous problem
Fluid in chest or abdomen
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.
We care about your pet as much as you do and want the ultrasound exam to be a positive experience for the both of you. Please feel free to ask us questions, we will do our best to provide you with the information you need.
Our Germantown TN clinic can tell you more about ultrasonography, answering any questions or concerns you may have. Call Forest Hill Animal Hospital at 901-754-5007 to schedule a consultation, or to go ahead and arrange your pet's first session!
Ultrasound exams are performed for many reasons. In human medicine, most of us think about ultrasound exams during pregnancy. However, in veterinary medicine, because ultrasound is a safe, repeatable way to look inside the body, it has become a very useful tool for many other situations.