What is endoscopic ultrasound?

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) combines endoscopy and ultrasound to create images of the digestive tract and its surrounding organs and tissues. Endoscopy uses a long, thin tube, inserted into either the patient's mouth or rectum, that contains a camera (endoscope) to see inside the body. Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. With these two technologies, your doctor can create more detailed images of the digestive tract. Endoscopic ultrasound is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure.

When does your doctor order an endoscopic ultrasound?

EUS is ordered to get a more detailed examination of your digestive tract, including your esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum, and for organs near the digestive tract, including the pancreas, liver, and gall bladder. It can help your doctor diagnose causes of abdominal pain or abnormal weight loss. For patients with cancer, EUS helps determine the extent of the disease’s development.

EUS may also be used for:

  • Diagnosing cancers in the digestive tract (may involve tissue sampling)
  • Evaluating pancreatic diseases
  • Diagnosing problems in the bile ducts and gall bladder
  • Characterizing lesions or bumps on the walls of the intestines

What are the risks of endoscopic ultrasound?

It is very rare that there are any complications during or after an endoscopic ultrasound. According to the National Pancreas Foundation the risk of complication is less than 1%. Because the patient is sedated, there is risk for cardiac or pulmonary complications associated with the use of anesthesia. In a very few cases, patients may have bleeding or infection caused by a tear or puncture to the GI tract. If a patient is at risk for infection the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic.

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