Animal Hospital of North Asheville recently upgraded our ultrasound capability with a new machine for the fourth time. Why did we spend over $80,000 to upgrade again? Because the new ultrasound machine produces amazingly detailed images that can improve our ability to make quick and accurate diagnoses. This ability can make the difference between life and death for your pet, and that makes us happy.
We have always been a leader in ultrasonography in Western NC, and to really use our high level skill at ultrasound we need state of the art equipment. Developing technology continues to improve the ability of ultrasound machines to provide the diagnostic level of detail we want for your pet. The level of detail our new machine provides can enable us to make an earlier diagnosis of problems including bladder stones, kidney disease, intestinal disease, heart disease, adrenal disease, liver disease and abdominal masses. Early detection gives us a better chance of being able to treat or manage problems and comfortably prolong or save the life of your pet.
Ultrasound machines have smooth probes that are gently run over the skin to send harmless extremely high frequency sound waves into the body. Those waves, which cannot be heard or felt, bounce back to the probe and are then processed by the computer to create a live video on the screen. There is no pain or discomfort involved for the pet. All that is required is for the area that we are examining to be shaved and ultrasound gel applied. Almost all pets are content while the procedure is performed and do not require sedation. Some are so relaxed that they even fall asleep during the procedure!
You have probably seen an ultrasound picture of a human baby in the mother prior to birth, but did you know that ultrasound is an extremely valuable diagnostic tool for animal diseases? Just to give you a short list, the most common areas examined by ultrasound are organs in the abdomen or in the chest. In the chest, we may find tumors that an x-ray cannot identify but an ultrasound can. Dogs and cats can develop various life threatening heart conditions. One is cardiomyopathy, and our ultrasound can differentiate between the two types so the correct medication can be prescribed. Our ultrasound can look at each beat of the heart, measure the volume of blood that the heart is pumping and follow the progression of the condition and the response to medication. Heart valve disease, a common source of heart murmurs in dogs, can be evaluated and treatment can be determined based on the information from ultrasound. Birth defects of the heart can often be diagnosed through ultrasound, and some of them can be treated with surgery. Our ability to diagnose heart defects often allows the patient’s family to seek surgery that affords the pet a long and comfortable life.
Abdominal ultrasound can identify benign and malignant growths on your pet’s liver, kidneys, spleen (very common in large breed dogs) or anywhere in the abdomen. The greater the detail provided by an abdominal ultrasound, the earlier abnormalities like cancer can be diagnosed. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the prognosis. Pancreatitis can often also be identified with ultrasound. The high level of detail in our new equipment makes it easier to identify tumors and abnormalities in the adrenal glands, which are very small and can otherwise be difficult to visualize. We use our ultrasound to guide a biopsy needle into a specific structure for a minimally invasive biopsy. Ultrasound of the kidneys and bladder may show stones, which are common in people in this region and also affect many dogs and cats. Pets can have intestinal disorders, and the new high definition ultrasound can help to diagnose them by looking at the thicknesses of the layers of the intestinal wall. The list goes on, and we are constantly finding new ways to use ultrasound to improve our diagnostic abilities.
Our new ultrasound has four different probes so that different areas and different size pets can all be examined. We have a computer system that stores the images and videos on site and our whole system is backed up off site so that your pet’s images will always be available when needed. Additionally, we have the ability through telemedicine to instantly send a patient’s ultrasound images to a specialist who sends a written second opinion in as little as 30 minutes. All of our doctors can utilize ultrasound, but Dr. Dennis Golden and Dr. Jim Earley perform the complex ultrasound exams. We are so thankful to have this level of equipment and veterinarians who have advanced training, which allows us to be leaders using this diagnostic tool.
For our veterinarians, this machine gives us what we want: accurate, detailed, imaging that is affordable for you; imaging that is so non-invasive the pet does not even realize it is occurring; imaging that can save you money with a quick diagnosis and possibly save the life of your pet.