What is ultrasound? Ultrasound, or echosonography, is a technique through which structures are visualised by taking advantage of the different way in which they return sound waves directed into these tissues by a probe. The returning sound waves are picked up by the same probe and transferred, via a computer, into an image on a screen. This technique is best known for its use in the examination of pregnant women. Why is ultrasound used?
Ultrasound is particularly useful for the visualisation of structures containing fluids, such as the heart, the bladder and other abdominal organs. In most cases there is no need for sedation or anaesthetics, and there is absolutely no risk at all for the patient or the examiner. Only the most nervous animals will need sedation. The area under investigation will always be clipped and cleaned, after which a gel is used between the skin and the probe to improve the images. Drawbacks of the technique are that the examiner needs specialist knowledge to be able to interpret the images, and structures containing air, such as the lungs, can not be visualised. There are several forms of Ultrasound. These include B-mode, M-mode and Doppler ultrasound. They all have their own specific uses, advantages and disadvantages.Not all vets will have access to Ultrasound but it is becoming more and more commonplace nowadays. The equipment used is very expensive, as is the training required to interpret the resulting images. Therefore, Ultrasound examinations are not cheap. However, it is often worth the costs, as invaluable information can be gained.