Owner ultrasound information sheet

What will happen during my pets ultrasound examination?

On your arrival, you will be asked to sign a consent form. Your pet will be admitted, possibly sedated (see below) and placed on their side or back in a soft, padded and comfortable positioning aid. Hair will be shaved from your pet over the area to be examined (approximate area illustrated on consent form). The examination usually takes 20 – 40 minutes.

Why can’t I be with my pet during the examination?

Many owners believe their pet will be less stressed and more co-operative if they are with them, however it is often the opposite. It is also important to avoid interruptions and possible distractions to allow personnel to fully concentrate. Therefore the examination can be performed more efficiently and accurately when only trained staff are with your pet.

***The following apply to abdominal ultrasound only, not ultrasound of the heart***

Why is it important that my pet is starved?

Even a small amount of food in the stomach prevents ultrasound from reaching other parts of the abdomen, meaning that some structures cannot be seen, and the examination is not thorough. There is also a risk that under sedation, food can reflux up from the stomach into the oesophagus, causing damage or strictures. Please starve your pet for at least 12 hours prior to their ultrasound appointment time.

Why does my pet need sedation?

All patients are sedated for abdominal ultrasound unless there is a specific reason why we cannot. This is because ultrasound diagnoses often rely on subtle changes and without sedation patients are often tense or panting; they do not allow the ultrasound probe to be pushed far into the abdominal wall, meaning lesions can be missed and certain small structures located deep in the abdomen can not be seen well (if at all). Sedation helps patients to relax and enables a faster and more accurate examination.

Taking tissue samples during ultrasound examinations

Although ultrasound is very good to look inside the body several diseases can have a similar appearance. Obtaining a sample of tissue by using either a small needle or a biopsy punch will allow us to make a definite diagnosis in most cases. However, please be aware that a definitive diagnosis from these samples is not guaranteed, and also all procedures of this nature involve a small degree of risk.  The biggest risk of obtaining a tissue sample via ultrasound guidance is internal bleeding, although this is rare (less than 0.25%). Heavy sedation or a short general anaesthetic is usually required.  If we feel that a tissue sample is indicated for your pet, we may wish to proceed immediately, and so it is important that you either give permission for this in advance (by ticking where specified on the consent form), or that you be contactable at all times during the day that your pet is having his/her ultrasound examination. Please note that there are additional charges for taking samples. After taking ultrasound guided biopsies, your pet will need to stay at the surgery for at least 3 hours afterwards, so they can be monitored for any bleeding.

***Please ask your vet if you require an estimate of cost for the examination or for taking tissue samples***