Ultrasonography is becoming the new standard in veterinary imaging. As a diagnostic tool, ultrasound is faster and more accurate in diagnosing certain conditions than radiography. It’s also becoming more and more affordable. The University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine anticipates that ultrasound equipment could become as prevalent as radiography machines in veterinary practices. (1)
The principal reasons for in-house veterinary ultrasound are:
- Versatility in anatomy and pathology that can be imaged
- Shortening the Time to Diagnosis
- Better Clinical Results
- Expanding to New Niches
- Increased Referrals
- A Way to Stop Losing Revenue
What makes veterinary ultrasound so versatile?
As one of the most versatile diagnostic modalities in veterinary medicine, ultrasound helps DVMs investigate conditions related to diseases of all abdominal organs as well as the peritoneal and retroperitoneal space.
Imaging the large abdominal organs is relatively easy. The smaller organs are more difficult to master but with practice, the adrenal glands, pancreas, lymph nodes, prostate and female reproductive tract can reliably be assessed.
Ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography) has also become standard practice in veterinary medicine. Musculoskeletal ultrasound, a standard in equine practices for close to 40 years, has developed a faithful following in small animal practices as well as human medicine.
Ultrasound has also shown to be instrumental in emergency medicine, looking for thoracic, pericardial, and abdominal fluid in trauma and other emergent cases.
How can implementing veterinary ultrasound shortening the time to diagnosis?
Point of care ultrasound, when employed by the veterinarian or a trained technician, can answer important clinical questions during the exam, reducing time waiting for lab results, consultations and other specialist reports. A more rapid diagnosis can lead to faster initiation of treatment, which in turn, can lead to improved patient outcomes. In life threatening situations such as hemopericadium or hemoabdomen, a faster diagnosis can be the difference between life and death.
How does veterinary ultrasound lead to better clinical results?
Ultrasonography has countless clinical applications, but is especially useful for evaluating abdominal masses, the presence of fluid, and examination of the gastrointestinal tract for suspected swallowed foreign objects. Ultrasound is particularly effective for diagnosing morphologic changes associated with congenital and acquired cardiovascular diseases. Doppler ultrasound imaging during a cardiac exam enable veterinarians to evaluate blood flow and turbulence (e.g., valvular insufficiencies, stenosis, septal defects) as well as pulmonary hypertension.
How can veterinary ultrasound expand your veterinary practice to new niches?
Portable ultrasound equipment enables veterinarians to perform diagnostic screening and preventative testing throughout the hospital and offsite. Expanding into other practice areas or recruiting visiting specialists can further increase the use of ultrasound into new practice niches.
What is an easy way to increase word-of-mouth referrals?
In-house ultrasound is more convenient for clients because they do not have to visit multiple practices to access the needed diagnostics. These benefits combined with the confidence inspired by your use of the latest imaging technology will invariably lead to more word-of-mouth referrals.
How can veterinary ultrasound keep you from losing patients and revenue to affiliates?
Some veterinarians are hesitant to invest in ultrasound equipment due to the upfront cost, which can exceed $30,000 for a high-quality system. These DVMs typically refer their clients to affiliates who offer ultrasonography. As a result, they lose out on thousands of dollars in revenue because they are unable to perform diagnostic screening, preventative testing, and even surgeries that required ultrasonography for a diagnosis. On-site ultrasonography is now more versatile, “user-friendly” and affordable than ever before.
Veterinary ultrasound equipment helps DVMs attract new clients by offering better clinical results due to improved diagnosis. In addition to improving clinical results, in-house ultrasound exams directly increase revenue. Ultrasound findings also lead to other diagnostic procedures and therapies, including surgeries. In-house ultrasound capabilities may encourage word-of-mouth referrals. Also, veterinarians who offer ultrasound rarely lose patients to affiliates, and may be able to expand their practices to specialty niches.
(1) Ultrasound Has Many Uses in Veterinary Care.