South County Animal Hospital offers a variety of imaging technologies that can be used to aid in more accurately diagnosing medical problems.

Radiology: with the ability to be easily digitized for brightness and contrast manipulation as well as enlargement to view minute abnormalities, our state of the art in-house and portable x-ray units, including a dental and exotic exclusive unit, allow for excellent visualization of the skeleton.

Fractured femur and dislocated hip
Same dog with hip reduced using bone anchors and femur repaired with plate/rod technique.


Videoendoscopy: problems from the nose down the upper airways and the mouth down the esophagus and into the stomach can be visualized identifying foreign bodies, tumors or ulcers. Photographs and video can be recorded for later review and consultation using our MedRX system. In addition, VideoOtoscopy provides for visualization of the ear canal and tympanic membrane, and our Ear-I-Gator system attachment allows for flushing of the canal removing debris. Furthermore, this highly adaptable system can be used for ophthalmologic exams identifying problems in the fundus and retina.

Ultrasonography: useful to evaluate soft tissue structures such as heart, and abdominal organs as well as tendons and fetal assessment.

Patients are regularly referred to South County Animal Hospital for a diagnostic ultrasound of the heart or abdomen. Dr. Block has extensive training in the use of ultrasonography most recently with Naomi Burtnick, the ultrasonographer for veterinary cardiologist Dr. Larry P. Tilley.

South County is the only hospital in the Fort Smith area with color doppler capabilities. The color doppler ultrasound gives Dr. Block an accurate view of the flow of blood through organs, most notably the heart. Many veterinarians refer animals needing an ultrasound exam to South County Animal Hospital because performing the procedure requires specialized skills and equipment.

Ultrasound is an excellent diagnostic test and is noninvasive and painless. However, as with all tests it is neither 100 percent sensitive or specific. There is no real contraindication to performing this test. Even normal results help determine health or exclude certain diseases.

What Does an Abdominal Ultrasound Reveal?

Abdominal ultrasound helps in the evaluation of abdominal organs including the liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, intestines, kidneys, bladder, uterus, pregnancy and prostate gland. This test can be extremely useful for detecting changes in the shape, size, tissue density, internal structure, and position of organs. The exam also can identify most abdominal masses or tumors, abdominal fluid, and abnormal lymph nodes. Frequently abnormal tissue or fluid is sampled with a needle or biopsy instrument using the guidance of the ultrasound exam.

What Does an Echocardiogram (Ultrasound of the Heart) Reveal?

The echocardiogram allows the veterinarian to see inside the heart. For moving organs such as the heart, the size, tissue character, and muscle function can be assessed in what is called a “real time” examination that resembles a motion picture.

Echocardiograms help to evaluate the structure and function of the heart. This test can be extremely useful for identifying birth defects, heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathy), and problems with the heart valves. The exam also can be used to identify fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion), cardiac tumors, and heartworm infection. The chest cavity and cranial mediastinum (upper chest cavity) also can be evaluated, though in most cases the lungs cannot be visualized (due to the air in this organ).

How Is an Ultrasound Done?

Specialized (and very expensive) equipment is required to perform an ultrasound exam. The hair on the chest or abdomen is clipped and the pet is placed on a padded table and held so the area of interest is exposed to the examiner. A conductive gel is placed on a probe (transducer) that is attached to the ultrasound machine. The examiner places the probe on the skin and moves it across the surface to examine the organs or regions of interest.

Ultrasound waves are transmitted from the probe and are either absorbed or echo back from internal organs. Based on how many sound waves are absorbed or reflected, an imaging of the internal organs is displayed on a computer screen. With proper training and sufficient experience, the sonographer (examiner) can create consistent imaging of the internal organs and recognize departures from normal. Ultrasonography is a safe procedure and generally takes about 20 to 60 minutes to complete.

Is Sedation or Anesthesia Needed for an Ultrasound?

Neither sedation nor anesthesia is needed in most patients; however, some pets resent laying on their backs and may require some sedation to allow a diagnostic procedure. If a biopsy needle is used to obtain a tissue sample, a local anesthetic or ultrashort anesthesia may be used.

*Information on this page about imaging is adapted from information provided by under the “Fair Use” Act.