Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Outpatient Ultrasound: Instructions for Referring Veterinarians

About Outpatient Ultrasound Imaging

Our outpatient service allows veterinarians in private practice to obtain ultrasound imaging for their patients while maintaining primary care responsibility for the patient. The referring veterinarian is responsible for management of patient care up to and following the ultrasound procedure.

This service is only available upon referral from a practicing veterinarian.

Available Ultrasound Exams

  • Abdominal Exam - This exam will include a complete systematic evaluation of the abdominal organs.
  • Thoracic Exam - A thoracic ultrasound exam is useful to identify mediastinal or pleural disease, especially if the animal has pleural effusion. Evaluation of lung disease is limited to patients with severe pulmonary infiltrate.
  • Pregnancy Exam - This is an abbreviated lower cost exam which is limited to the female genital track. It is useful to diagnosis early pregnancy and to assess fetal viability. It is not an accurate method to determine the number of fetii in late pregnancy.
  • Partial Exam - This is a recheck of a previously completed ultrasound exam, or a limited exam of a single body system (urinary, hepatobiliary, GI, etc.).

Excluded Procedures

Invasive Procedures

Invasive procedures such as biopsies will not be performed as an outpatient procedure. Because of the higher risk of these procedures, this service will only be provided through a referral through one of the established services.


Echocardiography is not offered as an outpatient service. Echocardiograms are available through referral through our cardiology service, which offers full service cardiac evaluations.

How to Order an Ultrasound

  • The primary care veterinarian should complete the Ultrasound Request Form and submit the form by fax (540-231-9238) or email ( to our Radiology Department.
  • The client will receive a phone call from our hospital staff to arrange the appointment once the form has been reviewed and processed.

Animal Eligibility Requirements

  • The animal will be required to be up to date on rabies vaccination. The date of the last rabies vaccination will be requested on the imaging ordering form.
  • Recent blood work will be required for outpatient ultrasound to ensure the animal’s state of health and to provide useful information to our specialists.
  • If previous imaging studies are available, we request that they be provided to the radiologist to facilitate a complete imaging diagnosis.

Preparation for Outpatient Ultrasound

The animals should not eat for 12 hours prior to the procedure; therefore, please ask the owner to not feed their animal after 8 p.m. the night before the exam. They should continue to provide free access to fresh water. The presence of food in the stomach makes it difficult for the ultrasound to evaluate the cranial abdomen on ultrasound exams.

  • Scheduling and Appointment Duration - Ultrasound appointments are generally available every day, usually starting at 9:30 a.m. The veterinarian ordering the procedure needs to have recently examined the animal and must indicate on the ordering form that the animal is sufficiently stable to stay in a holding facility for up to 8 hours. The Veterinary Teaching Hospital will be glad to provide appointments for less stable patients but not through the outpatient service. A typical ultrasound exam takes about 45-60 minutes.
  • Clipping of Hair - To ensure the best ultrasound results possible, we will clip the animal over the area of interest. For most abdominal exams, the clipped area will extend from the last few ribs to the brim of the pelvis, and about one third of the way up the side towards the back. A larger area may be needed depending on the specific areas being examined and your pet's body shape.
  • Sedation - If sedation is required for the ultrasound, the patient may be disoriented and off balance for about half an hour after the exam. The patient will be discharged when he/she is standing and able to move around safely.


  • Prior to discharge, our radiologist will call the referring veterinarian to discuss findings.
  • Upon discharge, we will provide the client with a CD containing images and discharge information.
  • We will mail a CD with images and send the imaging report directly to the referring veterinarian by fax within 24-48 hours of the exam.