Berks Veterinary Ultrasound, LLC

Helping Your Veterinarian Help Your Pet


Different types of ultrasounds may be recommended by your veterinarian for different reasons. The most common are:


Obstetrical Ultrasound

Ultrasound is an excellent tool to check for pregnancy and the viability of puppies and kittens.

  • Pregnancy can consistently be determined as early as 16 days

  • Counting puppies and kittens is not always reliable as they can be re-absorbed during development

  • Age estimates can be done, but this is not always reliable

Abdominal, Thoracic, and “Small Part” Ultrasound

With ultrasound, the inner detail of organs and tissues can be evaluated as well as size, shape, and function.  The most common studies performed are:

  • The liver to determine the cause of elevated enzymes and check for the presence of cysts (fluid filled sacs), abscesses (pockets of infection), tumors, and birth defects

  • The gallbladder and bile ducts to check for diseases such as mucoceles (mucous inflammation), gall stones, and bile duct obstruction

  • The adrenal glands to evaluate for enlargement or masses

  • Lymph nodes to assess for inflammation and tumors

  • The pancreas for cysts, tumors, or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

  • The internal structure of diseased eyes

  • The kidneys for congenital defects, infection, tumors, and hydronephrosis (swelling of the kidney due to urine outflow obstruction)

  • The thyroid and parathyroid glands for cysts and masses

  • The spleen, bladder, and reproductive organs for cysts, tumors, or infection

  • The stomach and intestines for foreign objects, tumors, wall thickening, and evidence of obstruction

  • The abdominal cavity to identify the cause of enlargement of the abdomen or other organs

  • The thoracic cavity to check for masses and the causes of fluid build-up


This type of specialized ultrasound can detect structural and functional abnormalities of the heart wall, valves, and large blood vessels. To determine what, if any, medications are best for your pet, we look at or for:

  • Blood flow across the valves

  • Abnormal opening and closing of the valves

  • Detection of congenital heart disease (birth defects caused by malformation of the heart, valves, or blood vessels near the heart)

  • Detection of any enlargement or damage of the heart muscle

  • The presence of blood clots or tumors in the chambers of the heart

  • The pericardium (a membrane that covers the heart) which can become inflamed or full of fluid

Doppler Echocardiography

This is an advanced technique requiring special probes and software that measures the blood flow velocity as it passes through the heart. It is used in assessing:

  • Malfunctioning valves, such as in aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve opening) or mitral insufficiency (failure of the mitral heart valve to close properly)

  • Patients with congenital heart disease (birth defects caused by malformation of the heart, valves, or blood vessels near the heart)

  • Pulmonary hypertension, a disease where high blood pressure in the lungs prevents normal blood flow to the lungs

Ultrasound Guided Biopsy

Ultrasound provides a real time, moving image which helps the ultrasonographer guide special needles to a specific spot to remove tissue or fluid for further testing. There are pros and cons to each method of biopsy, and no biopsy method is perfect for obtaining a diagnosis.  The two types of ultrasound guided biopsies commonly used are:

  • Fine needle aspirate—a small needle (the same diameter or smaller than that used for taking a blood sample) is used to remove cells which are placed on a slide for review by the pathologist. FNA can usually be done with either no sedation or just light sedation.   This method of obtaining biopsies has a lower cost and complication rate than other types of biopsies, but it does not allow for tissue architecture evaluation, which is important in some cases. Occasionally we are not able to get enough cellular material to get an accurate diagnosis.

  • Core biopsy—a larger diameter needle device is used to remove a plug of tissue (similar to a core sampling of the earth). A clotting profile is often needed prior to performing a core biopsy to help ensure that the patient’s blood has the ability to clot. A core biopsy also usually requires light anesthesia and has a slighty higher risk of internal bleeding.  Even with a core of tissue, however, there are occasional cases where enough material cannot be obtained to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.