An echocardiogram is a safe, comfortable, non-invasive imaging technique that uses sound waves to help us see the heart and some other parts of the chest more clearly. These sound waves do not move well through air and bone – when those structures need to be imaged (lung tissue, outline of heart), an X-ray would be needed.
An echocardiogram will be recommended by your FloridaWild doctor based on your pet’s specific symptoms, exam findings such as a heart murmur or arrhythmia, and potentially blood tests or X-ray results. Getting a better picture of the heart’s function and anatomy will help us direct treatments for your pet.
Echocardiography is typically comfortable. Pets lay on their sides on a foam padded cradle with a window to allow the probe to contact the skin of their chest over the heart. We look between the ribs with a nurse holding them and comforting them. The lights are dimmed, the room is quiet, and many patients relax and even fall asleep.
Your pet’s procedure will typically either be scheduled with Dr. Schrager or Dr. Hathaway. On occasion, we may have a traveling cardiologist come to the office to perform the scan on your pet.
For patients with thicker haircoats, we may have to shave the hair on their underside to better access direct skin contact with the ultrasound probe.
Your pet may typically be fed on the morning of this procedure, unless we know sedation is likely to be needed.
The length of time your pet is here can vary depending on the specifics of their case. Pets are typically dropped off with us for the day to allow time for multiple short scans if needed – pets must be calm and still for this procedure and may need breaks. We are typically also running other tests such as EKGs or taking chest films during these visit. If we know your pet will need sedation, we will discuss this at the time of scheduling.
Your FloridaWild doctor that recommended the echocardiogram will call you with the results. At that time they can discuss all the details of your pet’s treatment options with you. It will typically take a day or two to get results, as images are usually submitted by telemedicine to a board certified cardiologist for assessment. At times we may need to request a stat assessment in order to facilitate same day results.
Your FloridaWild doctor that recommended the echocardiogram will call you with the results. At that time they can discuss all the details of your pet’s treatment options with you.
For most, the answer is no. However, there are occasional patients that will need a sedative if they do not want to lay still. If this is the case with your pet, then your FloridaWild doctor will make sure to discuss this with you beforehand.