Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians


Is any special preparation required for animals receiving abdominal ultrasound?

Yes, the ventral abdomen of each patient should be cleanly shaved from the xiphoid area to pubis, extending slightly along the lateral abdominal walls.

Can animals be fed on the day of abdominal ultrasound?

Ideally no, when possible all patients should be fasted to optimize the quality of the exam, particularly of the cranial abdomen. If an animal has been recently fed or has a condition (ie. hypoglycemia) that fasting may be detrimental to, then the exam can still be performed but may be of reduced quality. There is no need to withhold water from patients.

Frequently Asked Questions for Pet Owners

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What is a Board Certified Veterinary Radiologist?

To become a veterinary radiologist, an individual must first complete veterinary school, preceded by two to four years of undergraduate training. Thereafter, usually after doing a one year internship in medicine and surgery, he or she completes an additional three or four years of specialty training. This is called a veterinary radiology or diagnostic imaging residency. 

During this residency, the individual receives advanced training in interpretation of X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scans), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Ultrasonography, and Nuclear Medicine.

After completing a radiology residency, candidates must pass a difficult exam to certify they have have the skills expected of a veterinary radiologist. Upon passing this exam, the individual can acknowledge his or herself as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology (Dipl. ACVR).

Can an animal owner request the radiologist's services directly?

No. Your own veterinarian plays a critical role in the initial diagnostic evaluation of your pet. He or she must determine if the services we offer (i.e. ultrasound) will be helpful with diagnosing or treating your pet's problem. If so, then your veterinarian will arrange an appointment with us.

Does ultrasound have any harmful side effects?

No. When used for routine diagnostic examinations, no harmful side effects have been noted. We use the same type of equipment proven safe for fetal ultrasound in women.

Does abdominal ultrasound always provide a diagnosis?

No. Abdominal ultrasounds are typically more diagnostically sensitive than abdominal X-rays and may provide an instant diagnosis. However, sometimes on an exam we visualize an abnormality (i.e. nodule) that can appear identical with benign and malignant disease. Other times a particular structure may appear normal, although it is affected by disease.

We often perform what is called an ultrasound guided fine needle aspirate or biopsy of a particular organ or abnormality to increase the diagnostic value of ultrasound.

Are there any risks of fine needle aspiration or biopsy?

Yes. The most common risk after an aspirate or biopsy is a small amount of hemorrhage (bleeding). Therefore these procedures are only performed when their diagnostic value outweighs the risk to your pet. These procedures and any associated risks will be discussed with you in detail before they are performed.

What happens after an abdominal ultrasound is performed by the radiologist?

The radiologist will discuss the exam findings with your own veterinarian and help him or her determine if further diagnostic tests will be necessary. Your veterinarian will then recommend an appropriate treatment plan.