Endoscopic Ultrasound is a procedure in which your doctor will examine your esophagus, stomach and small intestine by the use of a small, flexible tube which has an ultrasound device at the end. Ultrasound enables your doctor to examine the walls of the intestinal tract as well as adjacent organs such as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.
The ultrasonic endoscope is a long, flexible tube that can be directed and moved around the intestinal tract to obtain video and ultrasound images. An open channel in the scope allows other instruments such as a fine needle to be passed through it to take tissue samples (biopsies) or aspirate fluid from a cyst.
Reasons for the Exam
Endoscopic Ultrasound is often performed as a diagnostic procedure for patients with the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal imaging results on CT scan or x-ray
- Tumors or growths on the intestinal tract or adjacent organs
To obtain the full benefit of the exam and allow a thorough inspection, the stomach should be completely empty. This means that you cannot have anything to eat or drink after midnight the evening before the procedure. Your physician may also instruct you to stop taking any aspirin or blood thinning medications for several days before your test. Specific instructions for preparation will be provided beforehand by your physician.
Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) is usually performed on an outpatient basis. It is performed with the patient lying on the left side. A bite block is usually placed in the patients mouth to keep the mouth open. The patient is sedated with MAC. For the procedure you will swallow a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an ultrasonic endoscope. The ultrasonic endoscope transmits images of the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, and also ultrasound images of adjacent organs such as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Therapeutic tissue samples can be collected by the physician using a fine needle that passes through the EUS scope.
The benefits of endoscopic ultrasound include:
- Accurate early diagnosis of tumors through biopsy
- Drainage of cysts
Alternative testing includes CAT scan or external ultrasound. These procedures are usually performed prior to the endoscopic ultrasound. Biopsies of some organs may be performed by a radiologist using x-ray guidance.
Side Effects and Risks
You may experience a slight sore throat following the exam. Risks include bleeding, infection, or anesthesia reaction. A rare complication is perforation of the lining of the intestine requiring surgical repair. Due to sedation, the patient should not drive or operate machinery for the remainder of the day following the exam.
Endoscopic ultrasound is a fairly new modern diagnostic and therapeutic tool which enables physicians to provide accurate diagnosis to ensure proper treatment for specific cancers and other gastrointestinal conditions without the need for surgical access. Treatment programs can be evaluated, or reassurance can be provided when the exam is normal. It is one of the most useful and simple exams in medicine.
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