Ultrasound is a very useful way to visualise organs and see them working in real time. Concern with the function of organs such as the liver, kidneys or spleen is a common reason to ultrasound the abdomen. We can measure the size of the organs and look at the structure and texture of the organ to pinpoint any abnormalities.
For our breeders, the ultrasound is an excellent pregnancy diagnosis tool and we can estimate the number of puppies or kittens in the litter. It also allows us to check up on the health of the pregnancy and intervene if necessary. Towards the end of the pregnancy, we can assess how happy the puppies or kittens are within the womb by measuring their heart rate. A slow heart rate may indicate that the puppy/kitten is getting stressed and should be delivered soon.
The heart ultrasound - the most difficult of all - can allow us to measure the size of the heart chambers and walls and assess the patency of the heart valves to evaluate how well the heart is functioning. We can even visualise tumours growing from the heart walls. Our head vet is practiced at the heart ultrasound, which is a very delicate and precise skill.
Other uses for the ultrasound include urine collection directly from the bladder, needle biopsies from organs such as the liver and spleen, and drainage of unwanted fluids from body cavities in certain disease processes.