Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a procedure using sound waves known as ultrasound during an endoscopic procedure to look at or through the wall of the gastrointestinal tract. This technique allows physicians to see organs and structures not typically visible during gastrointestinal endoscopy, such as the layers of the gastrointestinal tract wall, the liver, pancreas, lymph nodes, and bile ducts.
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This test provides your physician with more information than other imaging tests can because of the dual approach of using an endoscope and ultrasound technology. An EUS may be ordered to determine the cause of abdominal pain or unexplained weight loss, as well as to get a closer look at an abnormality discovered during a previous exam. It can also be used to diagnose diseases of the bile duct, gallbladder and pancreas if other tests have proven inconclusive. In some cases, it is used to obtain a biopsy sample to determine if cancer is present.
Upper gastrointestinal tract: An empty stomach allows for the best and safest examination, so you should have nothing to eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the examination. Your doctor will tell you when to start fasting. See the next section regarding medications, health conditions and allergic reactions for important information your doctor needs to know.
Lower gastrointestinal tract: Your colon will need to be empty to provide the best and safest look at your colon. Your healthcare provider will prescribe a clear liquid diet along with laxatives or enemas prior to the exam. It is important to follow the instructions completely. See the next section regarding medications, health conditions and allergic reactions for important information your doctor needs to know.
Generally, you can take most of your medications – however, blood thinners such as Plavix, Coumadin (warfarin) or heparin may need to be adjusted leading up to the EUS. Typically, you can take aspirin or NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) before the exam – please discuss this with your doctor to be sure.
Also alert your healthcare provider if you have any allergies to medications and if you have major health conditions including heart or lung disease. Let your physician know if you require antibiotics prior to dental procedures, because you may need them prior to an EUS.
If you’re having an EUS examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract, your physician may spray your throat with a local anesthetic. You will most likely also receive a mild sedative. The endoscope is then inserted through your mouth to reach the area to be examined. Your physician will then glide an ultrasound transducer (similar to what is used during pregnancy) across the skin of the area being examined. The endoscope is a thin lighted flexible tube and does not interfere with your breathing. The procedure takes between 15 and 45 minutes (although you need to allow about two hours total for the entire prep, procedure and follow-up).
If your physician is examining the lower gastrointestinal tract, you won’t receive a local anesthetic in your throat, but are likely to be offered a mild sedative. The endoscope is then inserted through your anus to reach the area to be examined. Your physician will then glide an ultrasound transducer (similar to what is used during pregnancy) across the skin of the area being examined. The endoscope is a thin flexible tube and does not interfere with your breathing. The procedure takes between 10 and 30 minutes (although you need to allow approximately two hours total for the entire prep, procedure and follow-up).
You will be observed until most of the effects of the medications (sedative and/or local anesthetic) have worn off. You may resume drinking when the anesthetic no longer causes numbness to your throat, unless your doctor states otherwise. Most patients experience no symptoms after this procedure and can resume eating upon leaving the facility. You might have a slight sore throat if you had an upper GI exam. You may also feel bloated or experience gas because of the air and water that were introduced into your GI tract during the exam.
If you received sedatives, you will not be allowed to drive, so please arrange for a competent driver to accompany you to this procedure.
Although complications can occur even when the procedure is performed correctly, they are rare when performed by doctors who are specially trained. If you had a biopsy performed, there may be bleeding at the site.
If you have chest pain, fever, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, bleeding, or black or tarry bowel movements after the test, call our office immediately.