Most ladies who experience pregnancy will be familiar with ultrasound scans. In addition to being used in Ante-natal checks, ultrasound is an essential tool in both Domestic and Farm Animal Veterinary Practice.
An ultrasound scan, sometimes called a sonogram, is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of the body. A small device called an ultrasound probe is used, which gives off high-frequency sound waves.
You can’t hear these sound waves, but when they bounce off different parts of the body, they create “echoes” that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image.
The scan can often be performed on animals without the need for sedation and the image is displayed on a monitor while the scan is carried out in ‘real time’.
The sound waves pass easily through less dense (or fluid filled) structures such as the bladder or the fluid around a foetus and this area appears black on the monitor. More sense tissues (such as bone) cause the sound waves to be absorbed and appear white on the screen.
Modern scanners can produce very detailed images of internal organs such as the liver, kidneys and pancreas and it can be very useful to investigate the internal structure of these organs.
Doppler Ultrasound is a further development and it can be used to map blood flow in the heart and blood vessels. Movement, such as blood flow, shows up as either red or blue on the screen. Doppler scanning can be very useful if a Vet is concerned about a congenital defect such as hole-in-the-heart or a leaking heart valve as it can show unusual bloodflow turbulence.
Ultrasound is now an essential tool in Veterinary Practice and so each Donaldson’s surgery has it’s own in-house ultrasound facilities.
Ultrasound is also used in Farm animal Veterinary Practice.
Pregnancy Diagnosis (confirming that a cow is pregnant) is an essential management tool for farmers. A battery powered ultrasound probe is inserted into the cow’s rectum and the cow’s womb can be imaged to tell if there is a calf developing. The image is transmitted wirelessly and is displayed on a headset worn by the Vet (a bit like a virtual reality headset!). Our experienced farm vets can not only tell if a cow is pregnant, they can also tell how far into the pregnancy the cow is and this helps the farmer to know when she is due to calve.