4176 Meridian Street

Bellingham, WA 98226

(360) 758-2200

24/7 Emergency Care​

Veterinary Ultrasound Services

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture (also known as a sonogram) of organs, tissues, and other structures inside the body. Unlike radiographs, or x-rays, ultrasounds don’t use any radiation. Ultrasounds can help to identify various changes within the body. An ultrasound can also show parts of the body in motion, such as a heart beating or digested food moving through the small intestine. We currently offer ultrasounds of the abdomen and neck in dogs and cats. All of our ultrasounds are read by a board-certified radiologist and the finalized report will be sent to your veterinarian within several days of the scan.

What should I expect when dropping my pet off for a diagnostic ultrasound?

In order for the ultrasound machine to create the best possible diagnostic image of your pet, the area of interest needs to be clipped of all hair. This might mean a large haircut depending on your pet’s size. Without this haircut the ultrasound will be too “noisy” and not produce a diagnostic image.

How do I prepare my pet for a diagnostic ultrasound?

Your pet should be fasted the morning of the procedure. That means no food after midnight. You do not need to restrict water access.  If your pet takes medications they should take those at their normal time. Some medications need to be given with food, if they do you can give a small meatball sized snack with the medication in lieu of a whole meal. We fast our patients in case they need sedation and to prevent food in the stomach from blocking the view of other organs. 

Does my pet need to be sedated for the procedure?

An abdominal ultrasound requires your pet to lay on their back for ~30 minutes. While the use of ultrasound is painless, your pet might require light sedation if they are anxious, painful, or uncomfortable. If any fine needle aspirates need to be taken for samples, sedation will likely be required. If your pet requires sedation we will make sure they have recovered fully prior to leaving our clinic.

What are fine needle aspirates?

Fine needle aspiration is a type of biopsy procedure. In fine needle aspiration, a thin hollow needle is inserted into an area of abnormal-appearing tissue or body fluid. As with other types of biopsies, the sample collected during fine needle aspiration can help make a diagnosis or rule out conditions such as cancer. Fine needle aspirates of organs or lymph nodes can be performed with ultrasound guidance, depending on the size and location of the desired area. Fine needle aspiration is generally considered a safe procedure and complications are infrequent. 

Fine needle aspirations are not the same as incisional biopsies. Fine needle aspirations are considered non-invasive and performed under light sedation with the guidance of the ultrasound. Incisional biopsies require surgical incisions performed under heavy sedation or general anesthesia. We are not able to take incisional biopsies using ultrasound guidance. 

Which counties do we provide outpatient ultrasound services to? 

We provide services to counties in Washington State (counties include: Whatcom, San Juan, Skagit, Island, Snohomish, and King) and British Columbia, Canada.

Contact BBVSH Bellingham
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If you have an emergency, please call 360-758-2200.