Digital Radiology and Ultrasound are important imaging tools which complement laboratory testing in diagnostic evaluation of your pet when he or she is ill. Digital radiographs (x-rays) are helpful in the assessment of bone/joint, thoracic and abdominal problems, but are limited in that they cannot image the internal aspects of organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and heart. Nonetheless, x-rays are often a valuable “go-to” diagnostic tool when physical examination and laboratory tests are not able to reveal the underlying cause of your pet’s health problem.
Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging modality which uses sound waves to view the internal structures of these organs. Ultrasound is helpful when a diagnosis is not able to be obtained with x-rays alone. Echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) is particularly helpful when there are symptoms of a heart problem such as a heart murmur, and the cause is not discernable on x-rays or lab work. F.A.S.T. (focused assessment with sonogram for trauma) ultrasound is helpful in identifying internal bleeding for trauma patients. Ultrasound can also be used to obtain non-invasive small needle biopsies of organs such as the liver and spleen, when disease of these organs is suspected.
Perhaps the most fun use of ultrasound, per our veterinary team, is for pregnancy checks.