Berks Veterinary Ultrasound, LLC

Helping Your Veterinarian Help Your Pet


What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a procedure that uses extremely high-frequency sound waves to view internal organs and produce images of the body. Ultrasound technology was originally developed as sonar to track submarines during World War I, and is similar to what bats and dolphins use to find their way around and identify objects. It was first used medically in the 1950s and is extremely safe.

The human ear can hear between 12 Hz (cycles per second) and 20,000 Hz.  In small animal veterinary medicine we use probes that emit sound waves in a range from 3,000,000 Hz to 12,000,000 Hz, way above what can be heard by any animal.  By the way, bats have a hearing range of 20 Hz to 120,000 Hz, dogs hear between 40 Hz and 60,000 Hz, and dolphins hear between 0.25 Hz to 150,000 Hz!

What are the benefits of ultrasound?

  • Ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging technique, which means it does not penetrate the skin or body openings

  • It is a painless procedure

  • Ultrasound is diagnostic, which means it is used to determine what disease or condition is present

  • Because it does not use radiation, the side effects of radiation are not an issue

  • Real-time images are generated by ultrasound, so it is a good tool for guiding procedures like needle biopsies

  • Ultrasound can display the movement and actual function of the body's organs and blood vessels

  • There are no known harmful effects of standard ultrasound imaging

What are the limitations of ultrasound?

  • The main limitation of ultrasound imaging is that the sound waves do not reflect clearly from bone or air. Therefore, other imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI are generally preferred for areas such as the brain, lungs, and bones.

How does ultrasound work?

  • During the ultrasound examination, a device called a transducer (or probe) is used to view the target organ and produce pictures

  • The transducer emits the ultrasound waves and detects the returning echoes when it is placed on or over the body part being studied.  When the emitted sound encounters a border between two tissues, some of the sound waves bounce back to the transducer, creating this echo

  • The echoes are analyzed by a computer in the ultrasound machine and transformed into moving picture “slices” of the organ or tissue being examined

  • These moving picture “slices” are evaluated for abnormalities