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Ultrasound studies are most helpful to evaluate soft tissue and fluid structures. Energy in the form of sound waves is passed into the body. Reflected sound waves returning to the probe are used to create an image of the internal organs. Moving organs may be evaluated during motion, such as the beating heart, flowing blood and contracting intestines. Gastrointestinal foreign material may be identified on an ultrasound exam when it is not apparent on radiographs. While radiographs are useful to assess organ size and overall shape, an ultrasound exam allows for evaluation of the organ architecture and blood supply. Ultrasound examinations are commonly performed on the abdomen, thorax, neck, eyes and soft tissue structures of the head, trunk and legs. In addition to assessment of organ architecture, ultrasound examination is helpful to identify free fluid within a body cavity (i.e., thorax and abdomen).

Ultrasound Guided Aspirate and Core Biopsy,

Including Abdominocentesis And Thoracocentesis

Following assessment of an organ and the surrounding structures, ultrasound imaging is used to guide needle placement into a selected tissue or cavity. A sample of tissue or fluid may be drawn through the needle as an aspirate to analyze the cells or other contents of the sample (cytology and microbiology). A larger needle may be used to retrieve a small piece of solid tissue for a core-biopsy to analyze the architecture of the tissue (histopathology). Ultrasound guidance is commonly used to removing fluid from the chest cavity (thoracocentesis) and abdominal cavity (abdominocentesis).

See our departments

Diagnostic Imaging

Our diagnostic imaging department provides expert service in radiographs, MRI, Fluoroscopy, CT, and ultrasound. Other services include ultrasound guided biopsies and cystocentesis. While diagnostic services are generally provided by the request of one of our other services, outpatient ultrasounds can be scheduled by appointment with our radiologist.

At VCA Aurora, we utilize advanced diagnostic tools, including state-of-the-art imaging, to more quickly and accurately arrive at diagnosis of a medical condition and thus develop the treatment protocol for a patient faster. In addition, our hospital's board certified specialists in veterinary radiology have advanced training and years of experience in this highly-specialized area. This ensures that your pet will receive only the best medical care and attention at VCA Aurora.

What Is A Veterinary Radiologist?

A board certified specialist in veterinary radiology is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in all aspects of radiology, such as radiographs (x-rays), ultrasonography, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, and biopsy techniques. A veterinary radiologist is trained to make optimal use of sophisticated, high tech equipment that can aid in the diagnosis and proper treatment of many serious diseases.

Specialists in veterinary radiology typically work in support of general practice veterinarians and other specialists. The signs of disease on a veterinary x-ray or ultrasound are often very subtle. It can take significant expertise to read these subtle signs and, therefore, such signs are less likely to be missed or misinterpreted if an expert in veterinary radiology is consulted.

Why Does My Pet Need To Be Referred to A Veterinary Radiologist?

Specialists in veterinary radiology frequently work in a support role with general practitioner veterinarians or other types of specialists in order to help:

  • prioritize a set of possible diagnoses
  • identify the extent of disease in the body (including which organs may be involved)
  • identify traumatic injuries
  • identify internal tumors and masses
  • guide future diagnostic procedures
  • provide additional expertise or a second opinion by reviewing routine x-rays, ultrasounds, etc.
  • assist in performing biopsies or fine needle aspirates


In most cases, general practitioners will consult with or refer patients to veterinary radiologists at referral practices. While many general practitioners routinely take radiographs or offer ultrasonography in their own practices, board certified radiologists are frequently needed for additional consultation. Thanks to the magic of telemedicine, veterinary radiologists can also review images and offer consultation remotely to any practice via the Internet.

A CT (cat scan) or MRI study can be an important diagnostic tool in determining the cause of illness and extent of a disease or diseases in a veterinary patient. Due to the expense of the equipment and the specialized training required, these types of services are generally available only at referral facilities or teaching hospitals.

While your regular or primary care veterinarian can manage many aspects of your pet's care, there is sometimes a need for the attention of a specialist to either take over the pet's treatment or work in tandem with the doctor as veterinary radiologists typically do. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her problem.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved In My Pet's Care?

Yes. In almost all cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care. Veterinary radiologists typically work in concert with your veterinarian and other specialists to diagnose and treat your pet's injuries and illnesses. They help provide your primary care veterinarian with additional information about your pet's health status.

Our Diagnostic Imaging Services

Diagnostic Imaging/Radiology Overview
Abdominal Ultrasonography-Abdominocentesis and Cystocentesis
Computed Tomography (CT scanning)
Digital Radiography

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