Ultrasound is a technique used for examining soft tissues structures of the body and can also be used for bone surfaces. High frequency ultrasound waves are emitted from a transducer (probe) and transmitted into tissues. The waves will pass through water unimpeded, but reflect back (echo) once they hit denser tissue. Different tissues have different densities. These reflected echoes are converted into electrical energy and are seen as an image on the screen. Ultrasound is a very safe non invasive technique that only requires skin clipping and cleaning as preparation.
There are many different types of ultrasound scanners and probes. At the Scarsdale veterinary group we have very high quality digital ultrasound with a full range of probes allowing us to image a full range of structures. Ultrasound examination is frequently used in lameness investigation for assessment of tendons, ligaments, muscle and joints. All our vets involved with lameness investigation have extensive experience in ultrasound examination and the relevance of ultrasound lesions detected to the sport that the horse is competing in. For many injuries repeat ultrasound examinations are used to monitor a horse’s progress within an exercise programme during recovery and return to work. For some disciplines pre competition season assessment of tendons and ligaments is appropriate.
Some of the disorders seen on ultrasound will go on to have specific treatments e.g. Stem cell therapy, shockwave therapy, IRAP or be candidates for surgery. Ultrasound examination is also used extensively in investigating other non lameness problems especially gastro-intestinal disorders, cardiology, breeding and infertility.