top of page



rhoades-equine-vet logo-transparent.png
Sarah L Rhoades, DVM

Providing quality veterinary services for horses in the greater Franklin County, Missouri area.

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
What is an Ultrasound?

Most people are familiar with the images an ultrasound machine produces as a 'sonograph' -- specifically, they think of the images obtained of the unborn baby during pregnancy checkups!

What an ultrasound machine is, is a machine that produces high frequency sound waves, and measures the reverberation of those sound waves in order to produce an image we can see. {‘Ultra’ ‘sound’ or ‘sono’ (as in a ‘sonic boom’) ‘graph.’}


Water, is particularly conductive of these ‘sound waves’, and coincidentally, the body is composed of approximately 70% water. Different tissues have different amounts of water in and around them – so the machine can measure these differences and formulate an image.

So, why is an ultrasound so important to my horse's care?

Now we know what an ultrasound is, and what it does the question then becomes, how does it allow me to do my job better and provide higher quality care for your horse. Let me give you some examples how I would take advantage of technology to better evaluate some problems one may come across:

While the ultrasound is ineffective through air, you could scan the lung fields and see the surface of the lungs –inflammation will appear as bright little ‘comet tail’ looking specs on the lung surface in a horse that may have pneumonia. The image would give me an idea of the inflammation occurring within that horse's lung fields and, consequently, ongoing damage. In another case, or you may find fluid accumulation in the pleural space (where there it shouldn't be) which would suggest a very severe disease process such as pleuropneumonia ('shipping fever') or a cancerous process. In another case, I may find a thick, fluid filled abscess in the lung field of a foal with rhodococcus. Any one of these findings would change my recommendations for treating, prognosis, referral, and even vital antibiotic decisions. 

The ultrasound may used for reproductive purposes: You can scan the uterus and evaluate for fluid filled cysts before breeding a mare that may be confused with a pregnancy later, evaluate the details of the uterine wall to estimate how close she may be to estrus, or even the ovary to monitor the development of follicles and know on what day she ovulates. This would be absolutely vital to ordering semen or a timed breeding! 


You can diagnose a pregnancy, evaluate the heart beat and health of the foal, and even determine the sex of the foal in some cases!

The machine can pick up such fine detail, it can even image the fiber structure of tendons and ligaments to determine soft tissue injury, severity, where it is in the healing process, and sometimes even old healed or repetitive injury. This may alter your decision to purchase a horse, or influence our decision when to increase exercise off a past injury, or even what route of therapy we choose to treat a lameness/performance issue.


Needless to say, there are a plethora of applications and uses! In an effort to provide quality care and services, Rhoades Equine is proud to offer ultrasonography on the farm.

Benefits of Ultrasound:

Ultrasound or sonographic image of a mare's non-pregnant uterine horn.
  • Faster, more accurate, visual diagnosis - see what's actually going on and do so stall side

  • More effective and targeted treatment - with improved diagnosis accuracy and speed, it's easier to make more informed decisions going forward

  • Greater treatment and management options - some treatments and options simply aren't possible without an ultrasound

  • Wide range of Applications - including reproduction, orthopedic, traumatic injury, internal disease, and much more

Ultrasound, or sonographic, image of the medial meniscus of an equine stifle.
An ultrasound, or sonographic, image taken of the distal equine metacarpus just above the fetlock.
bottom of page