An abdominal ultrasound allows us to evaluate the structure of the internal organs. This is often performed as a complement to blood tests, which evaluate the function of the internal organs. An abdominal ultrasound can either be performed by a general practitioner (Dr. Melissa Bisesi performs abdominal ultrasounds for Ashland Animal Hospital) or by a radiology specialist (a number of area specialty hospitals offer this service including Tufts, Angell, and IVG).
Abdominal ultrasound is a non-invasive test; an awake (and FASTED) dog or cat is laid down on their back in a cushioned v-shaped pillow, the fur is shaved from the abdomen, a layer of gel (like aloe) is spread on the exposed skin, and an ultrasound probe is gently placed on the surface of the skin to allow us to see into the abdomen. This process is exactly the same as is experienced by pregnant women during ultrasounds.
Abdominal ultrasound allows us to evaluate the liver, gallbladder, spleen, kidneys, adrenal glands, urinary bladder, prostate, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, and many abdominal lymph nodes. We evaluate the size, shape, and structure of these organs to identify any abnormalities that may exist which would not necessarily be identified on blood work alone.
Examples of common conditions which can be diagnosed with abdominal ultrasound but which would not necessarily show up on routine blood work include cancers, gall stones, gallbladder mucocoeles, foreign objects within the stomach or intestine, kidney stones, and bladder stones.