The outcome of treatments for medical conditions can often be greatly improved when early detection and diagnosis is given. A study by Dunn TR et al published in the Journal of dairy science on 2018 Mar 7looks at the use of veterinary ultrasound in helping to determine the presence of disease in cattle. The study is called ‘The effect of lung consolidation, as determined by ultrasonography, on first-lactation milk production in Holstein dairy calves’ and the full article (and abstract from which the information contained here is taken) can be found by clicking here.

This study looks at lung consolidation via ultrasound imaging which may help in earlier diagnosis of bovine respiratory disease, and can result in calves contracting pneumonia. Ultrasound thoracic examinations were carried out in female calves throughout their initial 8 weeks (215 calves in total), and 3 factors were looked at: ‘age at first calving’, ‘first-lactation milk production’ and ‘survival to the end of first lactation’ all in relation to lung consolidation.

The criteria for the presence of lung consolidation was regarded as anything greater than or equal to 3cm, and ultrasound imaging was used in pre-determined specific areas of the thorax. For more information on how milk production/calf survival was calculated, please see the full abstract/paper.

The results revealed that in some cases there were instances of multiple pregnancies (4%) and that some calves suffered from particular adverse circumstances such as (but not limited to) breaks within the rib cage (7%) and also swollen growths within the lung (3%). In addition, lung consolidation was also detected (57%). Everything taken together meant that there were some fatalities (7%), highlighting the importance of being able to detect and diagnose these conditions are early as possible. Furthermore, the amount of milk produced in the initial lactation was reduced when lung consolidation was reported.

As more studies like this one are carried out, we can begin to further understand the importance of ultrasound imaging in disease diagnosis and in increasing the survival rate of a variety of animals.