Tips for Small Animal Ultrasonography

Playful kitten

Small animal ultrasonography is a type of imaging modality in veterinary medicine. This non-invasive procedure can significantly improve the capabilities of any veterinary office. Veterinary ultrasound examinations offer a comprehensive screening option that can be used to determine the unknown causes of disease or medical issues in an animal. 

Small animal ultrasonography is most commonly used to determine the causes of chronic disease or other pathologies.

Ultrasound Techniques and Findings

Veterinarians can use small-animal ultrasounds to obtain a cross-sectional image of different organs. Some of the most common screenings in small animal ultrasonography are the abdomen, the lymph nodes, and the bladder. Veterinarians have uncovered common indications of inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatitis in dogs and cats through ultrasounds. 

Sonography is reportedly effective in identifying gastrointestinal foreign bodies with 100% accuracy in small animals when tested. It is also effective in identifying cancer and its stages in small animals. 

Related complementary imaging modalities, such as radiology, are used on a limited basis due to the cost and complicated practice of modalities. But an ultrasound, when performed by a trained veterinary practitioner or a sonographer, can be done efficiently and cost-effectively.

Urologic Sonograms

A urologic sonogram is an ultrasound imaging modality used in both humans and animals. The purpose of a urologic sonogram is to find abnormalities in an animal’s organs. In a urological sonogram for small animals, organs commonly examined include the bladder, liver, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, and kidneys. 

The bladder is surveyed in both transverse and sagittal planes. Urologic sonograms are often used to identify growths in the bladder that could be secondary to transitional cell carcinoma. These growths are suspected in dogs and cats if they are straining or struggling to urinate. The masses are found most commonly in the trigone of the bladder. 

Varying surveying techniques are used to examine different organs. For example, when surveying the kidneys of a small animal, it’s best to start on the left, as the left kidney is the easiest to locate.

 Abdominal Sonogram

Any small animal scheduled for an abdominal sonogram should be fasted if and when possible. The animal should be shaved from the xiphoid to the pubis to eliminate potential air trapped within the fur, which can cause complications. 

A systematic pattern is used when scanning the abdomen to provide a cross-sectional anatomy of the organs. A sonographer should learn to scan the animal in both dorsal or lateral recumbency positions, as both are equally effective.

User Training, Preparation, and Driving

Although a non-invasive procedure, an ultrasound user should be well-trained to make the correct decisions on the most suitable machinery and techniques specific to animal size and needs. Veterinarians should commit themselves to training and education in the use of ultrasound equipment, so that they may identify the problem or question they want to be answered by the scan before performing the ultrasound. In ultrasounds, the absence of common indicators does not rule out the possibility of disease.

Transducer Driving Basics

When performing a sonogram, a practitioner will use a transducer to produce the images. The transducer is held similar to a pen, between fingers and thumb. Use the following driving tips for the best ultrasound images and the comfort of the animal: 

  • Apply light pressure with a light grip
  • Use a distance motion for greater physical distances
  • Opt for non-distance angle motion for smaller areas or animals
  • Non-distance rotational motion is best for fixed positions

Important Pathologies Covered by Sonography

Pathological findings through sonography are not rare. It is a highly informative medical procedure. Growths in the bladder are a typical example of pathology found through sonography which can sometimes lead to transitional cell carcinoma. 

Veterinary ultrasounds are also commonly used to uncover gallbladder pathologies in small animals. Small animal ultrasonography has been a primary diagnostic and therapeutic tool for years now. It is pivotal that veterinarians become familiarized with the common pathologies in different species they are examining. 

Small animal ultrasonography has become an invaluable way to inform veterinary practitioners of the common pathologies, anatomies, and physiologies in different species. Since 1966, small animal sonography has been a critical aspect of veterinary medicine. It is a challenging yet crucial field of animal care. 

For more information on small animal ultrasonography equipment or to place an order, call Choice Medical System, Inc. at (727) 347-8833.