Delatite Veterinary Services has 2 ultrasound machines. On farms we have a portable ultrasound machine for pregnancy testing cattle, horses and alpacas and in the clinic we have a brand new machine that enables us to gather more information about your animal's condition. We will advise you during your consult with one of our veterinarians if we recommend or intend to perform an ultrasound. We will also explain what we will be looking at when we are performing the scan.
What is an ultrasound scan?
An ultrasound scan is a painless, non invasive procedure that uses high frequency sound waves thta are inaudible to humans to produce an image of the various structures within your animal's body. Like any sound wave and substance, some sound waves are absorbed by the body's tissues whilst others are reflected back towards the ultrasound probe. The reflected sound waves are measured and used by the ultrasound machine to form an image on the screen which can then be recorded for repeated viewings.
We generally only use ultrasounds for investigating soft tissue and fluid filled tissues inlcuding the kidneys, liver, bladder and heart. Due to the effect on sound waves, an ultrasound is a lot less useful for examination bones and air-filled structures like the lungs.
What happens to my pet when it is booked in for an ultrasound scan?
Depending on your pet's condition, we will either perform an ultrasound while you wait, ask you to leave you pet with us for a few hours or book a time in the following days for the ultrasound to be performed. Due to our veterinarians having to position your pet in a certain manner (sometimes multiple positions) in order to gain the best image, sometimes we will recommend sedation for your pet. This reduces the stress on your pet (who doesn't understand what we are doing) and minimises movement (allowing better visiualisation of smaller structures). If we have recommended sedation for your pet, we do ask that you do not feed your animal on the morning of the ultrasound.
In order to perform an ultrasound scan, the ultrasound probe needs to come into very close contact with the skin. As our animals are normally quiet furry, we do need to shave the area to be scanned (which can be quite large when performing an abdominal ultrasound). So while they may have a bald patch, rest easy knowning that your pet hasn't felt any pain in the enitre process and their coat will grow back over 4-6 weeks! To increase the contact between the ultrasound probe and the skin we use a water-soluble gel on the skin - this minimises the air bubbles and allows a clearer picture to be formed on the screen.
Once the scan is finished, all the gel is cleaned off your pet and we will discuss the findings, what they mean, show you any images we have taken and what the next step in your pet's care is.