Ultrasound is mainly used to evaluate the heart and organs in the abdomen, although it can also be used to assess the eyes, as well as the lungs, bone injuries or subcutaneous anomalies.
In general, ultrasound is more sensitive and specific than radiography to trace and assess internal deviations. Sometimes it is appropriate to use both techniques since radiography is better suited to show the size of the anomaly, the shape and place it takes among other internal organs and tissues.
Ultrasound of the abdomen is mostly advised in the following cases:
- Patients with abnormal radiography of the abdomen
- Patients with persistent clinical symptoms (such as vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, bloody urine, weight loss, fever))
- Patients with abnormal blood/urine results (such as increased liver/kidney values, abnormal urine concentration)
- Determining the presence of metastases in the liver, spleen, lymph nodes in patients with a tumour
- Tissue sampling. When anomalies are present (such as enlarged lymph nodes, free fluid in the abdomen), a sample of this can be obtained via a needle. The needle can be visualized via ultrasound when taking a sample of tissue or aspirates of internal organs, tumours, lymph nodes, free fluid within the chest or abdomen. As such, the veterinarian can procure a precise sample of the anomalies (such as enlarged lymph nodes or tissue masses on the liver or spleen seen on ultrasound) and then examine these samples.
Ultrasound of the heart to assess the heart function is mostly advised in the following cases:
- When a heart murmur or arrhythmia is heard during the physical examination
- When certain chemotherapeutics that are not compatible with certain heart conditions are going to be used