Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
Pet Specialists of Monterey


Ultrasound uses sound waves, like SONAR, to produce images of organs and tissue in the body. It is a non-invasive procedure used to evaluate both the abdominal and thoracic cavity. Depending on the needs of your pet there are several different types of ultrasound evaluations:


FAST doesn’t just mean quick, it stands for Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma. The technique was developed in human emergency medicine and has been adapted in veterinary medicine to allow for rapid identification of masses and accumulation of abnormal fluids. Abdominal (A-FAST) and Thoracic (T-FAST) evaluations will be completed by our emergency doctors when needed.

Diagnostic Ultrasound

Diagnostic abdominal ultrasound: This is evaluation of the abdominal organs, vasculature and blood flow, to assess more subtle abnormality such as changes within an organ, change of anatomic position between organs, presence of masses or fluid, or evidence of blood clotting disease. Diagnostic abdominal ultrasound is completed by our internal medicine specialists.

Diagnostic thoracic ultrasound: This is evaluation of the heart, lungs, and other structures within the chest cavity. It can be used to look for fluid accumulations, enlarged lymph nodes, assessment of superficial lung masses, and initial evaluation of the heart for obvious abnormalities. Diagnostic thoracic ultrasound is completed by our internal medicine specialists, or by our cardiologist.

Echocardiogram: Echocardiogram is a detailed examination of the heart for evaluation and monitoring of structure and function. It may be used to assess heart murmurs in young pets with possible birth defects, or in adult dogs for evaluation of acquired muscle or valve disease. Echocardiograms are completed by our cardiologist.

Ultrasound-Guided Diagnostics and Therapy

Posing cat

Ultrasound can also be used as a guide to collect samples for diagnostic purposes or to remove fluid accumulations for diagnostic and treatment. Most Samples can be collected with little or no sedation. Ultrasound guided techniques include:

  • Fine needle aspirate: Sampling of groups of individual cells from internal organs such as the liver, kidney, or spleen, masses, or from abnormal fluid in body cavities. The needle used is similar in size to a vaccination needle. Most of these samples are collected without any sedation or anesthesia. After collection, tissue samples are evaluated on a microscope and fluid samples are chemically evaluated and visually examined on the microscope. Some sample evaluation can be completed at Pet Specialists of Monterey, then the slides and samples are sent to a board-certified pathologist for confirmation.
  • Needle biopsy: Collection of small tissue samples that show not just individual cells but also architecture of an organ or mass. The needle is about the size of a ballpoint pen tip. Needle biopsy generally requires brief sedation or injectable anesthesia. After collection sample is preserved in formalin, it is sent for microscopic evaluation by a board-certified pathologist.
  • Cystocentesis: Collection of urine from the urinary bladder for routine analysis and urine culture for bacteria. This is the most common ultrasound-guided procedure. Sedation is not needed for a well-behaved pet.
  • Thoracocentesis: Collection of fluid from the chest cavity around the lungs to improve breathing and for diagnostic analysis.
  • Pericardiocentesis: Collection of fluid from the sac that surrounds the heart to improve heart function and blood flow, as well as for diagnostic analysis.
  • Abdominocentesis: Collection of fluid from the abdominal cavity to reduce discomfort and distension and for diagnostic analysis.