West River Veterinary Clinic gets upgraded imaging machine

Quality of care is always a top priority at a medical establishment. That priority doesn’t change when treating our fury, four-legged friends. So the staff at West River Veterinary Clinic is always looking for better ways to help serve their patients.

The new ultrasound machine is on wheels and is mobile, but it will remain inside the facility. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)
The new ultrasound machine is on wheels and is mobile, but it will remain inside the facility. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

Dr. Lisa Henderson helped improve that service of care in September, when she finished training on the new ultrasound machine that was purchased by the clinic in July.

After 18 years, she was looking for another way to add another challenge and improve her skills as a veterinarian. So Henderson started investigating the possibility of adding the stand-alone machine. She decided to get some experience on the ultrasound through her required continuing education. Each year doctors of veterinary medicine are required to complete a certain amount of education training classes, and Henderson said that decided to focus on the ultrasound practice.

“I’ve always liked (ultra sounding) but never have had a whole lot of time to pursue it,” Henderson said.

Henderson said she had some instructions during her initial schooling, but said that there wasn’t a whole lot of hands-on time available.

The new machine is a Hitachi Aloka F37. If at first glance it looks like an ultrasound for people, that’s because it kind of is. Henderson said that the only difference is in the software parameters, and in fact when it comes off the assembly line, it’s set for human examination.

Right now the clinic has two types of probes the doctors can use. The difference between the two is the strength at which it can image. Right now the machine is equipped to image small to midsize animals, but depending on the location, it can be used for large livestock as well.

The procedure is the same as humans, though most of the time humans get to keep their hair. In order to get a proper picture, the animal has to be cleaned and clipped of its fur.

The ultrasound is on wheels so it can be taken from room to room, but it is not considered portable, one feature Henderson was not looking for when researching different machines.

The clinic was already in possession of two portable ultrasounds, but usually they were needed out in the country for examining livestock. Now, the new Hitachi will stay put, both in the current clinic and in the new one when it opens this spring.

Henderson said she traveled to Orlando, Fla. for her training course. Following that, they purchased the device and a representative came out to Hettinger to give her and the staff further instructions, because mechanisms and button placement can differ from machine to machine.

“Every machine is a little different, then you have to learn how to drive it,” Henderson said.

The device gives doctors the ability to diagnose ailments or injuries that may not be picked up through a conventional x-ray.

“Some of these things that we can’t see an x-ray, I’ve diagnosed with the ultrasound,” Henderson said.

The new machine should prove to be a valuable asset to the clinic and the animals they treat. With a service radius of nearly 100 miles, many trusted pet and animal owners count on the doctors at West River Veterinarian Clinic to treat their companions, and Henderson appreciates that sentiment.

“I really feel grateful,” Henderson said. “Our clients have a lot of faith in us, so that’s pretty neat.”

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