I may be biased, but I think ultrasound is just the coolest tool out there.
Don’t get me wrong—it’s one piece of the larger diagnostic puzzle, and no single modality can be the crystal ball we all wish we had. Thorough physical exams, quality history-taking, appropriate lab work, and other types of imaging contribute to our success as practitioners in honing in on an accurate diagnosis and therefore getting our beloved patients the treatment they deserve.
That said, here are my top four reasons that ultrasound is so powerful.
- Ultrasound’s dynamic nature is one of the more intimidating things about learning it, but nothing compares to being able to examine the inside of our patients in real time, watching the heart contract and ingesta move through the GI tract. This feature of ultrasound allows us to perform real-time, ultrasound-guided procedures such as biopsies, aspirations, difficult vascular access, and regional anesthesia, and gives us immediate information about a patient’s current status.
- Unlike the shapes and shadows that we see on radiographs, a patient’s anatomy has visible structure and architecture on the ultrasound screen. A kidney looks like a kidney, and the texture of the spleen appears finer than that of the liver, characteristics we would expect based on the gross feel and appearance of those organs. Sure, it takes time and practice to become truly familiar with normal tissue, but then pathologies will become readily apparent.
- Ultrasound is safe and noninvasive. With no radiation to worry about, you can repeat your exams as often as necessary without worry about potential long-term effects. This makes follow-up and serial exams much more practical, which is especially useful in monitoring of unstable or critically ill patients. Furthermore, ultrasound is painless to your patient and can often be done with less restraint than other types of imaging (FAST exam on a standing dog, anyone?), making it a safer choice for a compromised patient.
- Ultrasound is fast. Employed in a general practice, we can obtain information within minutes that might take hours or days otherwise. We’ll detect internal bleeding in a patient in much less time than would be required for exploratory surgery, and identify masses and pathologies days before we might have the results of lab work or referral imaging such as CT or MRI.
Please reach out to us if we can be of assistance to you—go to www.eimedical.com/get-info or call us at 1.866.365.6596 for more information or to request a free demo!
Dr. Wierman is Staff Veterinarian
and Director of Education for
E.I. Medical Imaging
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