The Frank Samways Veterinary Clinic is proud to announce the purchase of an advanced diagnostic ultrasound machine that will assist our veterinarians in detecting and diagnosing pregnancies, masses and growths, organ changes in the abdomen and heart disease. The machine can also be used to look at any soft tissue in the body, such as muscles, tendons, eyes and even brains in certain circumstances.
Ultrasounds are painless, non-invasive procedures that can usually be performed either completely awake or with a mild sedation. The skin over the area is shaved and cleaned before the animal lies comfortably on its side throughout the ultrasound.
Senior Veterinarian, Dr Caroline Butler, performs most of our ultrasounds here at the clinic and has had over twelve months of postgraduate ultrasound training. We are extremely fortunate to have a first-rate ultrasound machine, which provides Dr Butler with a highly defined image during the examination, making diagnoses easier and more accurate.
This machine not only helps us diagnose and treat the thousands of lost, abandoned and stray cats and dogs that come into the care of The Lost Dogs’ Home but it is also a fantastic tool for private patients who require a more comprehensive examination.
An ultrasound works when high frequency sound waves travel through tissue and are reflected back to the probe. Because of the differences in how sound travels through different substances, this forms a picture of soft tissue and liquid in the body. It does not work, however, through bone or air.
Below Dr Butler discusses several case studies in which she has utilised the ultrasound to effectively diagnose a variety of different ailments.
Case study 1
A 16-year-old male cat presented with a very fast heart and breathing rate and was not eating. We suspected he had an overactive thyroid gland and blood taken quickly confirmed this. He was started on heart and thyroid meds but after a week, he presented in severe respiratory distress. We were concerned that he would not survive the next day or two.
He was started on further meds to reduce the fluid build up in his lungs and abdomen. By the next day, he had stabilized. We sedated him, performed an ultrasound on his heart and an x-ray of his chest to confirm there were no other concurrent problems.
The ultrasound allowed us to diagnose Concentric Cardiac Hypertrophy, which is when severely thickened heart walls allow very little room for blood to flow into the chambers of the heart. This is directly caused by the overactive thyroid gland. We continued medication to reduce the activity of the thyroid gland and meds to support the heart, reduce blood pressure and fluid build up. He has responded very well to medication and is now enjoying life again.
Case study 2
A number of bitches have been presented to us for pregnancy diagnosis. We can usually estimate a due date with a three-day margin of error, no matter the size of the dog. It’s important to know dates to manage a pregnant dog, especially when to supervise her more closely and when to call for help. Of course, there have also been cases when they are not pregnant and have just been eating too much! We only need to shave a small area on belly and there is no need for sedation. You get instant results, and the owner can watch; however we are unable to count number of pups.
Case study 3
An elderly dog had a mass in her abdomen. Her owners wanted to do what was best for her but didn’t want her to undergo surgery unless there would be a reasonable chance of success. X-rays of the abdomen showed that there was a mass but did not give sufficient detail to show what the mass was attached to. Dr Butler performed an ultrasound and was able to determine that the mass was a discrete mass that only appeared to be attached to the spleen. On this information, we went ahead with the surgery. The dog successfully had her spleen removed and went on to make a full recovery.
Case study 4
This case was very similar to the previous case, in that it was an older dog with a mass in his abdomen. In this case, however, the ultrasound showed extensive involvement of the liver, suggesting that the tumour would be inoperable. As a consequence, the dog’s owners made an informed decision not to go ahead with the surgery or further investigation. The dog lived happily for a few more months without having to spend that time recovering from major abdominal surgery.
Case study 5
A litter of pups were born here at The Lost Dogs’ Home while their mother was a stray. Three of the pups in the litter were healthy and went on to find new homes, along with their mother, once they were old enough. One pup, however, was born with a heart murmur. Given the severity of the condition, Dr Butler accompanied the pup to a specialist centre for an ultrasound, where she was diagnosed with what is called a Patent Ductus Arteriosis. This condition can be corrected surgically; however, if undetected, the expected life span is only two years. This ultrasound diagnosis allowed the pup to get the appropriate specialist surgical repair and with the help of our generous donors, she went on to live a full and healthy life.