Our Birkdale and Formby Surgeries have an Ultrasound Machine that can be used to scan your animals on site.

An ultrasound examination, also known as ultrasonography, is a non-invasive imaging technique that allows internal body structures to be seen by recording echoes or reflections of ultrasonic waves. Unlike x-rays, which are potentially dangerous, ultrasound waves are considered to be safe.
Ultrasound equipment directs a narrow beam of high frequency sound waves into the area of interest.

The sound waves may be transmitted through, reflected or absorbed by the tissues that they encounter.

The ultrasound waves that are reflected will return as “echoes” to the probe, and are converted into an image that is displayed on the monitor, giving a 2-dimensional “picture” of the tissues under examination.

Ultrasound examinations are of little value in examining organs that contain air. Ultrasound waves will not pass through air and therefore it cannot be used to examine normal lungs. Bone also stops ultrasound waves, so the brain and spinal cord are unable to be seen with an ultrasound study, and obviously, bones cannot be examined.

Whether it is for diagnosing pregnancy (from 5 weeks), scanning a bladder, liver, kidneys: your vet with inform you if this is the right decision for your pet undergoing treatment.
Please speak to your vet today if you would like to discuss this option for your animal.

Anesthesia is not usually needed for most ultrasound examinations, unless biopsies are to be taken. The technique is totally painless and most dogs/cats will lie comfortably while the scan is being performed. Occasionally, if the animal is very frightened or fractious, a sedative may be necessary.

In most cases, the fur must be shaved to perform an ultrasound examination. Since ultrasound waves are not transmitted through air, it is imperative that the hand-held probe makes complete contact with the skin. In some cases, such as pregnancy diagnosis, it may be possible to get adequate images by moistening the hair with rubbing alcohol and applying a copious amount of water-soluble ultrasound gel.


Our Daleside Surgery in Birkdale and our Formby Surgery house our digital radiography machines.

An X-ray can be necessary in the treatment of your pet for many different reasons, you will be advised on this by your vet.

What is Radiography?

An X-ray (radiograph) test is a quick and painless method used to diagnose many health conditions. The procedure involves exposing part of your body to a small dose of ionising radiation (X-rays). The X-rays travel through your body where they are absorbed at different levels by different tissues such as bones, muscles and organs. When the X-rays come out on the other side of your body they hit a photographic film and make a pattern of light and shade. The images produced are black, white and grey.

Why Might My Pet Need An X-ray?

There are many reasons why your pet may need an x-ray at some point during his or her life. The most obvious reason would be after a trauma such as being in a road traffic accident where we want to check for any broken bones. Other reasons include:

  • Bone x-rays to look for deformities, growth problems, infection, fractures and to plan fracture repairs
  • Joint x-rays to look for damage, inflammation or arthritic changes
  • Abdominal x-rays to look at the soft tissues and organs for signs of disease
  • Chest x-rays to look for signs of heart or lung disease
  • Hip and elbow scoring for breeding purposes
  • Dental x-rays

What Happens When My Pet Has An X-ray?

In most cases, a general anaesthetic or heavy sedation is required to perform an accurate x-ray in animals. This is because most pets, however well behaved, will not sit completely still in the required positions to obtain high quality diagnostic x-rays. In some situations (for example a cat which has difficulty breathing), we may take a survey x-ray with the animal fully conscious to remove the additional risk associated with an anaesthetic in these cases.

Animals are not allowed to be manually restrained for x-ray under the guidelines set down by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for health and safety reasons.

Once your pet is stable under the anaesthetic or sedation, the vet will position your animal appropriately for the x-ray. It is usually necessary to take different views of the same part of the body – for example if we were taking x-rays of the knee joint we would need a “lateral” view (left to right) and a front to back view as a minimum. With limb x-rays we also usually need to take images from the opposite leg to use as a comparison.

Once the vet is happy with the x-ray positioning, they will adjust the exposure settings to obtain a good quality image. Once the x-ray has been taken it is developed in an x-ray processor. The final films can then be examined and evaluated.