Using Ultrasound To Diagnose Bladder Stones

0 Comments Posted by pitts in news on Thursday, October 13th, 2011.

Unfortunately, bladder stones are a fairly common problem for many cats and dogs.  Some animals are genetically pre-disposed to bladder stones, such as Schnauzers and Dalmations.  Some animals develop bladder stones due to urinary infections or by consuming diets high in mineral ash content.

Signs that your pet may have a urinary tract infection or bladder stones may include urinating small amounts, increased frequency in urination, inappropriate urination (accidents in the house, peeing outside of the litter box) and/or blood in the urine.  If you detect any changes in your pet’s urinary behaviors, please call us to schedule an appointment.

We will recommend that you bring a fresh urine sample to the appointment if possible.  For dogs, urine can be caught in a clean container with a lid. The first urine of the morning is the best sample.  Urine needs to be brought to the clinic within 4 hours of catching it for our laboratory to get the most useful information. For cats, you will need a clean litter box.  In multiple cat households you will need to sequester the cat with suspected urinary issues so that you know exactly which cat used the litter box. You can use a clean, non-absorbable substrate to mimick litter, such as non-biodegradable styrofoam packing peanuts. We have LabLitter available for purchase at the clinic.  Our staff is always available to help you collect urine if it is not possible to do so at home.

In some cases we may need to collect urine by cystocentesis or bladder tap. This involves sticking a needle directly into the bladder to collect a sterile sample of urine.  The ultrasound is a very useful tool for bladder taps as it allows the veterinarian to visualize exactly where the needle enters the bladder.  This procedure is quick and it is generally well tolerated by the patient.

Bladder stones can be detected by using many diagnostic tools.  Finding blood or crystals in the urine (upon urinalysis) may indicate the presence of stones.  If bladder stones are suspected, the doctor will recommend taking radiographs or using the Ultrasound to image the bladder.  Radiographs are useful, but not all types of bladder stones will show up on X-Ray.

Ultrasound is the best way to find bladder stones.When looking at the bladder via Ultrasound, the doctor can view the entire structure of the bladder-from the thickness of the bladder walls to the ureters and urethra (looking for blockages).  If stones are present, the doctor can measure the size of the stone.  Here is a real time video of a bladder stone in a cat:

Real Time Ultrasound – Feline Bladder Stone

Hills S/D-Stone Dissolving Diet

Once bladder stones have been visualized and diagnosed, the doctor can help you determine the best way to approach treating your pet.  Some stones may be so small that the animal may be able to pass them while urinating.  There are also veterinary prescription diets that may aid in dissolving the stone.  In other cases, the stone(s) may need to be removed surgically.  Once the stone(s) is removed, your animal will begin to feel much better, but changes may need to be made to your pet’s diet to help prevent the stones from redeveloping.  In addition to dietary changes, the doctor may also recommend supplements or prescription medications to help manage your pet’s condition.

Ultrasound is very useful tool in veterinary medicine.  It is a non-invasive procedure.  The patient lies on their back or side in a dark, quiet room while the doctor uses a probe to visualize the area of interest.  Ultrasound guided cystocentis generally takes less than 15 minutes and can usually be performed during your appointment.  A full bladder ultrasound takes just a little bit longer and may need to be scheduled on a specific day or time.

Please feel free to call us for more information on urinary issues or to schedule an Ultrasound.




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