What is it?
Ultrasound or sonography does not use rays, therefore it is a method of examining internal organs, tendons, muscles and the eye with no injury. By means of sound waves, images of the internal organs are created in real time. The examination is painless for the patient and is generally able to be carried out without the use of anaesthetic and in the presence of the owner.
Fields of application:
A major area of ultrasound is echocardiography. This is the study of the heart and heart function. The examination makes it possible to assess the beating heart "in action". It shows the flow of blood between the individual chambers of the heart (ventricles, atria) and the vessels and, for example, the smallest leaks (insufficiencies) of valves can be seen in detail. For this, the Doppler method can be used. The so-called colour Doppler shows the direction of blood flow in colour. Blood flowing in the wrong direction (for example due to a valve insufficiency), is shown by the resulting colour patterns.
By means of the so-called contrast method, deformities, like a hole in the septum (ventricular septal defect, atrial septal defect), can be clearly seen and evaluated.
Pericardial effusions are an absolute emergency in our patients and can not only be detected on ultrasound, but can be drained immediately under visual control.
With the ECG (echocardiogram) that runs during the examination, cardiac arrhythmias can be detected quickly.
A cardiac examination includes measuring the blood pressure.
Another area of sonography is the abdominal ultrasound.
Pregnancies: As in humans, the development of the offspring can also be assessed in dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs. It can be seen quickly whether the offspring are developing. After a few days or weeks (depending on the species) the heartbeat of the puppies / babies can be seen and on the basis of the heart rate, it can be assessed whether, for example, an emergency C-section needs to be performed. This method is less suitable for determining the number of puppies.
Internal organs: ultrasound is a painless and particularly gentle way to examine all abdominal organs. Ultrasound is very particularly well suited in the diagnosis of cancer and for assessing the stage of cancer.
Below are some examples of diagnoses:
Bladder: Cystitis or bladder stones can be diagnosed.
Kidney: From ultrasound we get important clues to kidney inflammation (nephritis), urinary and kidney stones or renal impairment.
Adrenal glands: Certain hormonal disorders (e.g. Cushing's syndrome) change the appearance of the adrenal glands.
Spleen: The spleen plays an important role in the diagnosis of cancer.
Liver: The liver must be examined carefully after cancer is diagnosed because metastases are often found.
Gastrointestinal tract: inflammation, stomach ulcers, intestinal obstruction are just some of the conditions possible to diagnose with ultrasound.
The assessment of tendons, ligaments and joints by means of ultrasound is gentle and very accurate. The biceps tendon may inflame and result in lameness and pain. This disease can be safely diagnosed by ultrasound.
In cases of tendon rupture, the healing process can be easily assessed and if complications or healing disorders develop, intervention can occur at an early stage.
An ultrasound of the eye not only enables the eye itself to be examined, but also behind the eye. If the veterinarian is unable to look into the depths of the eye because of cataracts etc., the ultrasound is used. Lens luxation, retinal detachment, optic nerve tumours, etc., can be depicted with ultrasound.
Frequently a tissue examination must be performed in order to be able to develop the best treatment possible. After surgery, the sutures on the abdomen must be monitored, with some animals requiring Elizabethan collars so they do not lick the wound. With ultrasound, accurate tissue samples can be removed from the organs for testing with very minimal risk. For so-called fine-needle aspiration biopsies (samples are taken with a small needle, comparable to a blood test), patients require neither anaesthesia nor a painkiller.
Biopsies are larger tissue samples, which are carried out in cases of inconclusive results. For a biopsy, the patient must be asleep, but a very short general anaesthetic is used and nothing must be stitched.
The images obtained are stored and archived so that at follow-up examinations measurements etc. they can be compared again.