Houston’s Ultrasound Roadtrip
At the start of the year, Houston, the Barred Owl who has called Lindsay Wildlife Experience home for more than two decades, started showing a few signs of his age. He was acting very tired, his wings were drooping, and he was not as eager for his food. Our Animal Encounters and Hospital teams worked hard to pull him through the rough patch, and Houston is now as bright-eyed as ever. With plenty of time to rest outside in aviaries and in his mews, we decided to look for more concrete answers to what Houston’s ailment might be.
We have a wide range of tests here at Lindsay Wildlife, and we have known for several years that his liver values have been abnormal. So we’ve kept him on medications to help keep him healthy. During his bout of illness in January, his liver values fluctuated again. Once he was healthy, we performed his annual exam, including taking radiographs. Using our x-rays, we found what appeared to be a sizable mass in his lower body, thickened intestines, and an enlarged liver. These were signs that Houston could have some form of cancer. It was especially worrying as it seemed possible that his liver trouble could have stemmed from a tumor that had been growing and metastasizing all these years. While he had recovered from this bout, a potential tumor meant he would likely suffer more of these periods of lethargy and inappetence that could have some increasingly serious ramifications. In order to ensure we could give Houston the best care possible, we needed a clear picture of his liver.
X-rays are great at showing rigid structures in a body, from bones to kidney stones to foreign bodies. Skilled veterinarians can even recognize the outlines and impressions of organs or densely packed tissues. When a detailed picture of soft tissues are needed, different kinds of scans can be utilized. Ultrasounds are often used to determine locations and causes of swelling throughout the body, particularly on soft organs. The procedure for scanning is noninvasive and quick, and the scans can be downloaded and viewed multiple times for thorough diagnostics.