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Can Veterinary Technicians Perform Ultrasound Exams on Animals?

Dr. Barchas, I am currently in school in a Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. I was curious if veterinarians perform the ultrasounds on animals or do...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Oct 31st 2010


Dr. Barchas, I am currently in school in a Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. I was curious if veterinarians perform the ultrasounds on animals or do you have technicians who specialize in animal sonography?

I tried to find some information on it, but couldn’t seem to find any and forgot to ask my veterinarian when I was there last. Thank you.

Sue
Ohio

Most animal ultrasounds are performed by veterinarians. However, this is likely to change over time.

In human medicine, most ultrasound exams are performed by specially trained technicians who capture images and forward them to a radiologist or other specialist for interpretation.

Veterinary ultrasounds usually are performed by veterinarians. However, specially trained veterinary technicians can perform animal ultrasound exams and forward captured images to a licensed veterinarian for interpretation.

In other words, anyone with training can “drive” the ultrasound machine, but only a licensed physician or veterinarian can say what the images mean.

Some veterinarians object to allowing technicians to capture ultrasound images. I don’t understand why. Driving an ultrasound machine isn’t very different from taking X-rays, and all vets allow their technicians to take X-rays. Interpretation of diagnostic images requires training and education that only a licensed veterinarian will possess; collecting the images does not.

In time I suspect that veterinary technicians who specialize in diagnostic veterinary sonography will be common.

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