Bridgewater theatre with a cat


 / Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds at BVH

Dr. Johanna Frank is Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital’s small animal internist and she performs ultrasounds for our patients, lending her considerable sonographic experience to our medical team.

Dr Johanna working on a dog


Ultrasound is a non-invasive, non-painful diagnostic test that allows us to visualize the internal organs and evaluate for disease. When we ultrasound the abdomen, we evaluate the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, bladder, spleen, adrenal glands, stomach, intestines, colon, pancreas and lymph nodes. We look for causes of common diseases and clinical signs such as:

  • Liver disease
  • Enlarged liver
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure/kidney disease
  • Bladder infections and or stones
  • Blood in the urine and inappropriate urination
  • Prostate infections or enlargement
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Excessive drinking and urinating
  • Cushing’s disease/adrenal disease
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the feces
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia (not eating or decreased appetite)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer search or staging for treatment
  • Infections
  • Anemia
  • Ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and pleural effusion (fluid around in the lungs)
  • Sampling masses or fluid accumulation
  • Abnormal laboratory values (example – liver enzyme elevation, anemia, elevated white blood cell counts)
  • Pregnancy detection

When we ultrasound the heart, we look at the size and function of the heart. Sometimes we obtain a baseline when a murmur is first heard, or as a clearance for anesthesia. In patients with clinical signs of coughing or difficulty breathing, we are looking for evidence of primary heart disease as a cause of the clinical signs and to rule in/out the possibility of heart failure. Most often, I will request a chest X-ray at the time of the exam to help evaluate the lungs. A blood pressure is also useful in many of these patients. Young puppies and kittens that are diagnosed with murmurs will be advised by your veterinarian to have an echocardiogram to see if there is a congenital abnormality especially before anesthesia for spay or neuter and to evaluate if your pet is a candidate for a corrective procedure if indicated.

  • Heart murmurs – acquired and congenital
  • Enlarged heart on x-rays
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapse/fainting
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Pre-anesthetic screen
  • Pleural effusion or pericardial effusion (fluid around the lungs or heart)
  • Heart based masses or right atrial masses/cancer screen
  • Masses in the chest
  • Diaphragmatic hernia
​What to Expect:

Your pet will be shaved for the ultrasound as fur or hair obscures our view. We limit the area shaved to the portion of the body being examined. We do ask that your pet is held off of food for 12 hours, and water a few hours before the ultrasound and your pet should have a full bladder. In the vast majority of cases, ultrasound is done on an awake animal, although light sedation is needed in specific instances. If a sampling procedure is appropriate, your veterinarian will discuss this with you in advance.​

It is important to note that Dr. Frank consults directly with us, at Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital, who will then relay the results to you. You are asked to drop off your pet prior to the time window given to your veterinarian at the beginning of the day of your pet’s appointment or you can wait in the waiting room during the ultrasound.