Fact vs Fiction: Is pet ultrasound safe and necessary? 

You take your pet cat or dog to a Virginia Beach veterinary hospital for a standard health check when the vet told you he found something suspicious and asked to have your pet take an ultrasound exam. Should you be afraid?

Ultrasound examinations, also known as ultrasonography, is a safe and non-invasive imaging method using ultrasonic wave technology to scan internal body structures by recording reflections or echoes of ultrasonic waves when it hits tissues back and forth. 

Unlike x-rays, ultrasound waves are generally safe and less risky.

How it works

A veterinarian Virginia Beach VA would typically ask for an ultrasound exam when they notice something not ordinary during a routine health check, in order to confirm if there are indeed problems that occur internally in your pet.

An ultrasound machine works by directing narrow beams of high-frequency sound waves on a target area, which are transmitted through, absorbed, or reflected back by the target tissues.

The waves that get reflected back return as “echoes” and converted into an image on the monitor and provide a two-dimensional image of the examined tissue. The benefit of ultrasound examinations is that it eliminates the need to cut up a patient in order to examine internal organs, rather it is a highly effective way of capturing images of internal organs to determine signs of damage or problems.

It has been known as an extremely useful technique for pregnancy diagnosis, evaluating heart conditions, or changes in abdominal organs that indicate signs of cardiac problems. It is also highly useful in diagnosing tumors and cysts.

Are there, drawbacks?

While there are no direct effects on human or animal tissue with ultrasound, there are a few limitations that the ultrasound method could not perform.

Ultrasound waves do not pass through organs that contain air, such as the lungs, which makes it ineffective for use to diagnose lung problems. Another limitation is testing on bones. Ultrasound waves cannot penetrate through the human bone, which is why it cannot be helpful when testing on a bone or the spinal cord, which does not show up in the monitor.

Ultrasound used in veterinary medicine

There is a number of ultrasound equipment that varies based on the images that are produced. For veterinary medicine such as those prescribed or used by a Virginia Beach veterinary hospital, the most common type is the two-dimensional ultrasound that uses B-mode or brightness mode ultrasound. 

This type provides a two-dimensional image of any organ scanned and commonly used to examine abdominal structures, pregnancy diagnosis, assess cardiac functions, and eye examinations for certain conditions.

Another type is the M-mode or motion mode ultrasound, which traces the motion of the structure being scanned is displayed. It is commonly used for examining heart chambers, walls, and valves in evaluating cardiac function.

Is it painful?

The ultrasound process itself is not painful, and anesthesia is only applied when biopsies are required where tissue samples need to be taken for pathological examination.

Always remember that ultrasound examinations are crucial in the promotion of preventive health care for pets, so the next time you visit a Virginia Beach veterinary hospital and an ultrasound exam is requested, do not be afraid to give it your approval otherwise you risk endangering the life of your pet due to an undiagnosed or untreated life-threatening problem.