Diagnosis of Heartworm Disease with Ultrasound Imaging

The Prevalence of Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is endemic in all 50 states, and is a highly susceptible disease that can be potentially fatal. Transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, heartworm's attack the lung, heart, and related blood vessels resulting in a variety of medical problems. The disease affects dogs, cats and many other species of animals. It is far more common in dogs than cats, and dogs are considered the definitive host. Thankfully heart worm disease is almost 100% preventable, but each year dogs are continually diagnosed.

Some dogs may show no signs of infection, but others have tiredness, strained exercise, anxiousness, cough, swollen stomach and weight loss. Early detection has the best outcome. Even when negative tests come back, ultrasonography can and should be used to confirm diagnosis. If you suspect an adult infection in a cat, an ultrasound scan is recommend. On the other hand in a dog a ultrasound scan is recommended for a symptomatic dog, and is important to rule out other diseases. A cardiac ultrasound imaging scan is a sensitive noninvasive procedure with a high rate of accuracy in diagnosis.

Diagnosis with Ultrasound Imaging

With ultrasonography you can see adult heartworms directly, allowing the internal structures of the heart and surrounding vessels to be viewed in real time. Ultrasound imaging can confirm heartworms when a mass of adults is identified in the right atrium, ventricle, and tricuspid orifice. The cuticular wall of adult worms is reflective and easily visualized by parallel hyperechoic lines, a mass or tangle of worms is seen as numerous short white parallel lines, similar to strands of spaghetti. When this is observed during a canine cardiac ultrasound exam it confirms the diagnosis of heartworms.

A practitioner or veterinarian can identify the presence of adult heart worms in the right side of the heart to confirm diagnosis. Any practitioner with access to an ultrasound machine and minimal training can make the diagnosis. Given this information, an ultrasound imaging scan should be performed when available. Ultrasonography makes diagnosis easier and helps both a veterinarian and pet owner move forward with treatment without hesitation. 

An Affordable Veterinary Ultrasound Machine for Cardiac

If your looking for an affordable veterinary ultrasound machine that can scan the heart, the Color Doppler ECO5 Vet has a cardiology application for small animals with the micro-convex probe. A bump up to the ECO6 Vet will give you more advanced features and capabilities with a dedicated phased array probe and a professional veterinary cardiology package. If you want top of the line in portable veterinary ultrasounds, the Sonobook 9 Vet features premium performance in cardiology, with precise imaging. Veterinary Ultrasounds specializes in portable veterinary ultrasounds, and is here to help you if you have any questions on choosing the best model for your practice.