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"Ultra" big news!

The Pine Ridge Veterinary Clinic team is excited to be able to now offer ultrasound as a new diagnostic tool in our practice. As you may be aware, ultrasound is a type of imaging that can be used to look at soft tissues in the body. It is a valuable tool in medicine for finding clues to why our pets are sick. It can also be used to more accurately take small samples of tissues and fluids for analysis.

This said, like any new skill, ultrasound skills are not acquired by buying a nice new machine. A nice machine is a good start, but the hard part is putting in the time to learn how to capture and interpret the pretty pictures. Some doctors and veterinarians dedicated their entire careers just to interpreting pictures - we call these people who sit in the dark all day vampires, er, radiologists! In all seriousness though, there is a steep learning curve to this diagnostic modality.

There are easy things to identify, like the bladder and any stones that may be present - and those skills are fairly quick to learn. Then there are more difficult part to identify like adrenal glands, and that will take more time to learn and perfect.

The difficulty of learning a new professional skill is how to honestly present your competency and skill set as you are learning and practicing. We all have to start at the beginning. You can call it the 10,000 hour rule, or the 2,000 scan rule, or whatever rule you like: I (Dr. McKenzie) am at about 50 hours and 40 scans as of February 2020. That’s 50 hours and 40 scans more than October 2019 when I started, but it is a far cry from being an experienced radiologist. The only way to become more knowledgeable and experienced is to continue to practice (and attend courses, and ask questions, and read books).

This weekend, I am taking a 2 day course on interpretation of liver and pancreas findings. I am looking forward to it! Our technician Jackie also recently took a weekend introductory course, and Dr. Pat Stapley Chase will be taking a course in May.

We will continue to offer to have our patients referred to radiologists and scanners, both at referral clinics, and with our experienced local colleague who has traveled to the clinic to perform our scans for many years. Now that we also have our own machine, we can also offer our own services at more introductory rates in a quicker time frame. With technological advances of the year 2020 we also can send our images to radiologists for their expert opinions vie telemedicine.

Please feel free to chat with us more about our expanding ultrasound services in the coming months and years. We are looking forward to helping more pets live longer, happier lives through great medical services!

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