What is an endoscopic ultrasound?
An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is an endoscopic procedure used to diagnose abnormalities in the digestive tract. More specifically, EUS uses endoscopy and ultrasound technology to obtain images of abnormalities in the digestive tract.
The EUS scope is similar to the traditional endoscope, but is fitted with an ultrasound transducer. The transducer can be placed close to the body's organs and uses sound waves just like a traditional ultrasound does. Because the transducer is able to be placed close to the organ being examined, the images are sharper and clearer.
Why have I been scheduled for a EUS?
An EUS is conducted to diagnose abnormalities such as:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Pancreatic cysts
- Stones in the common bile duct or pancreatic duct
- Abnormal lymph nodes in the peri-pancreatic region or abdomen
- Mediastinal lesions and lymph nodes
- Submucosal lesions of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, or rectum
- Staging of pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer and rectal cancer
- Assess for chronic pancreatitis
- Performance of celiac plxus block
What is done if an abnormality is found?
A fine needle aspiration (FNA) can be performed to extact cells from the lesion. The cells are then analyzed under a microscope by a pathologist to determine the presence of any cancerous cells.
If a cyst is found, fluid from the cyst can be aspirated and sent for laboratory analyses to determine the type of cyst. If a submucosal lesion is found and it does not invade or break through the muscalaris propia (muscle wall), it can be endoscopically removed through an endoscopic mucosal resection.
What should I expect?
Upon arriving at the Endoscopy Center, you will be brought to a pre-procedures area where an endonurse will verify your allergies and medication. The endonurse will also review some medical questions with you and start an IV. The IV is necessary to administer sedation during the procedure.
Once you are ready, you will be brought to the procedure room and the gastroenterologist will explain the procedure in detail, inform you of the risks and answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked to sign a consent form.
When the procedure starts, you will be given sedation through the IV. This will make you sleepy and ensure your comfort during the procedure.
After the procedure, you will be taken to a post-procedure area where you will be observed for about one hour, or until you are awake. You will then be given something to drink and the IV will be removed so you can return home.
What are the risks?
Like any medical procedure, there are some risks. The risks of an endoscopy, although very minimal, include:
- Allergic reaction to the medication
- Risk of bleeding
- Risk of a perforation of the esophagus, stomach or duodenal wall, all of which may prompt additional surgical repair
- There is also a slight change - less than 1 percent -- of developing pancreatitis after the procedure
What can I do after the procedure?
Because of the sedation, you will be drowsy for several hours after the procedure. You are asked to refrain from driving or operating machinery for the rest of the day. You should actually just spend the rest of the day relaxing.
You can, however, resume your normal diet and activities. If you have stopped any medications prior to the procedure, you can restart them now unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
You will be given some take-home instructions following the procedure, including a list of symptoms to watch out for. If biopsies were taken, you will be instructed to call your doctor for the results in about three working days.