Ultrasonography or ultrasound, is a diagnostic imaging technique similar to radiography (X-rays) and is usually used in conjunction with radiography and other diagnostic measures. It allows visualization of the deep structures of the body.
Ultrasound can be used for a variety of purposes including examination of the animal’s heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, bladder etc. It can also be used to determine pregnancy and to monitor an ongoing pregnancy. Ultrasound can detect fluid, cysts, tumors or abscesses.
A ‘transducer’ (a small hand held tool) is applied to the surface of the body to which an ultrasound image is desired. Gel is used to help the transducer slide over the skin surface and create a more accurate visual image.
Sound waves are emitted from the transducer and directed into the body where they are bounced off the various organs to different degrees depending on the density of the tissues and amount of fluid present. The sounds are then fed back through the transducer and are relfected on a viewing monitor. Ultrasound is a painless procedure with no known side effects. It does not involve radiation.
Pregnancy diagnosis by ultrasound in small animals generally requires 28 days of gestations, whereas x-ray is useful after 42 days.