Guide to preparation for small animal abdominal ultrasound scanning
Correct patient preparation for ultrasound scanning is vital because improper preparation can result in artefact. This will be seen as a hypoechoic ‘shadow’ resulting in poor image quality or non-visualisation of anatomy. It is caused by air being trapped under/around hair and skin, thereby preventing good transmission of the ultrasound waves into the patient.
- Hair removal
- A clip area that is too large is better than too small
- Ensure good communication with the owners about the amount of hair to be removed
Guide for area to be clipped for complete abdominal scan
Cranial – extend to xiphoid process (blue arrow)and follow the costal arch (grey arrow heads) dorsolaterally on left and right abdominal wall.
Caudal – extend to pubic symphysis
Dorsal and lateral – extend to the sub lumbar muscles (red arrow heads), following the costal arch
- Clean the skin as required
- It is important to degrease the skin if required
- Dilute chlorhexidine (e.g. Hibiscrub), isopropyl alcohol (spirit) or mild shampoo can be used sparingly
- Take care if the skin is inflamed prior to examination
- Ultrasound gel
- Apply liberally in the direction of hair growth
- Aim to avoid any air in layer of gel
- Wait for the gel to absorb into the skin, ideally 5 minutes
- Application of warmed gel decreases absorption time
- Increased contact time of gel on the skin improves image quality (there can be as much as 50% improvement)
- Through the duration of the examination the gel will absorb and dry out; application of gel during the examination is usually required
The features of an ideal location are:
- Quiet room
- Ability to darken
- Good stable table, height adjustable is preferred
- Height adjustable seating for ultrasonographer
- Comfortable bedding for the patient to lie on
- If echocardiography is being performed a cardiac cut out table or table top will be required
- Chemical restraint may be required
- Allow sufficient time; approximately 30 mins would be recommended for an abdominal ultrasound examination
- Remove gel from the patient’s skin gently. Using wetted swabs or cotton wool will remove gel residue without irritating the skin.
- Gently dry skin
Ensure probe is cleaned after each scan with a suitable product or fresh water.
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