Associated Veterinary Specialists - Advanced Veterinary Care - St. Louis, MO
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St. Louis Ultrasound Veterinarians

Ultrasound

Associated Veterinary Specialists Internal Medicine veterinarians provide the highest level of Ultrasound veterinary services in the St. Louis area

Ultrasound imaging, also known as sonography, is a non-invasive procedure used to evaluate the internal organs. This is most commonly used to image the abdominal organs, such as the liver, spleen, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and adrenal glands. Ultrasound can also be used to image the heart and other soft tissues such as the parathyroid glands.

How is an ultrasound performed?
At Associated Veterinary Specialists, AVS, an ultrasound is a scheduled procedure performed by a board certified internal medicine specialist or a board certified radiology specialist. If your veterinarian recommends that your pet have an abdominal ultrasound or you feel your pet may need an abdominal ultrasound, we may ask that you do not feed your dog or cat the morning of the procedure. Food in the stomach can make visualization of some of the abdominal organs difficult. When you bring your pet to AVS we will take him or her to our treatment area to prepare for and perform the ultrasound. To prepare your pet for the ultrasound, we will shave the hair from the area that is going to be examined. The ultrasound probe needs to have close contact with the skin to produce images so the hair needs to be removed in the area being examined. Next the patient is placed in position for the ultrasound. For an abdominal ultrasound this means they will need to lie on their back. Since the procedure can take 30-45 minutes, we lay them on their back in a padded trough to increase the comfort of lying in this position for an extended amount of time. Warmed ultrasound gel is applied to the shaved area to ensure close contact of the ultrasound probe and skin which improves the resolution of the images. All the organs are evaluated and pictures or videos are obtained as needed. When your pet is done, the doctor will discuss the ultrasound results and show pictures or videos when appropriate.

What are the benefits of ultrasound?
Abdominal ultrasound can be used to look at the internal architecture of organs, something that cannot be seen on X-rays. For example, a tumor within the bladder could be seen on ultrasound but would not be able to be seen on X-rays. We can also use the ultrasound to obtain needle aspirates to collect samples of fluid, such as urine, for analysis or samples of tissue, such as the liver or a tumor, for cytology. Biopsies can also be performed with ultrasound guidance to obtain tissue for histopathology. Cardiac ultrasound, also known as echocardiography, can be used to look for structural disease of the heart, such as valvular disease, or heart tumors.

What are the risks of ultrasound?
There are no risks to performing the ultrasound itself. Some patients need to be sedated for the procedure and risks of sedating of your pet will be discussed before the procedure.

Why should I have the ultrasound performed at AVS?
There are two important aspects to consider when having an ultrasound performed on your pet. First, will the person performing the ultrasound be able to get adequate images? Board certified radiology specialists go through a residency program where they are trained to perform ultrasounds. Other veterinarians, such as internal medicine specialists and general practioners, can attend workshops to learn how to obtain images with the ultrasound. In then end many veterinarians can learn how to perform an ultrasound. The more important consideration is who will to interpret the ultrasound findings and, more specifically, interpret them in relation to your pet’s illness. This is much more difficult. The interpretation of the ultrasound is why it is advantageousto have the ultrasound performed at AVS. At AVS an internal medicine specialist is always involved in the interpretation of your pet’s ultrasound findings. Internal medicine specialists have advanced training and knowledge of the function and disease processes of the various abdominal organs and are best qualified to determine how the ultrasound findings apply to your pet. For this reason, a consult exam with an internal medicine specialist is always part of the ultrasound examination. The ultrasound exam findings and interpretation of these findings are discussed with you and your regular veterinarian. Based on this assessment, an internal medicine specialist will recommend additional testing and/or treatment.