Understanding Endoscopic Ultrasonography

To examine internal areas of your body, your doctor may order an endoscopic ultrasonography, which is also called EUS. The imaging technique combines endoscopy with ultrasound technology. In addition, endoscopists are the specialists who perform the procedure. Be sure to ask your endoscopist about his or her qualifications, experience and training. EUS lets your doctor examine your stomach and esophageal lining along with your rectum and colon. The medical equipment will also help your doctor study organs that are close to your gastrointestinal tract such as your liver, lungs, pancreas and gall bladder.

An endoscope will be used to complete the procedure. The device is a small, flexible tube that has a camera and a light attached to it. Your endoscopist will add a small ultrasound mechanism to the top section of the endoscope to obtain a more extensive picture of the interior of your body. The equipment will be inserted through your mouth or anus to the part of your body that requires an in depth examination. Furthermore, the ultrasound device uses sound waves to send visual images of your digestive tract back to the doctor.

Why do Doctors Use the EUS Procedure?

Your doctor can obtain more information from the EUS procedure than he or she can from other types of imaging tests. The EUS image is highly detailed, and by using the examination method, your doctor can diagnose a condition that may be the cause of abdominal pain or an unusual amount of weight loss. Your doctor may also use the procedure to examine interior abnormalities that were spotted during an earlier diagnostic evaluation. Doctors can use EUS to diagnose pancreas, gallbladder and bile duct diseases.

How Does the EUS Procedure Help Cancer Patients?

EUS is a comparatively new diagnostic tool. Therefore, doctors are still finding uses for it. Currently, the EUS procedure is used to determine the staging of different types of cancer including lung, stomach and pancreas as well as rectum and esophagus. By using EUS equipment, doctors can determine if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph glands or blood vessels.

Do I need to Make Special Preparations before the Procedure?

Before the EUS procedure takes place, your doctor will ask you about your health history including any allergies that you may have. If you have a latex allergy, then be sure to mention it. People who are allergic to latex require special equipment, and the EUS examination is usually modified for them. If you are on a blood thinning medication or have a family history of blood clotting issues, then share this information with your doctor prior to the EUS. Do not eat or drink anything before the procedure. In most cases, your doctor will ask you to fast for about six hours.

When your doctor uses the EUS to examine your colon or rectum, you may need to follow a clear liquid diet or ingest a colonic cleanser before the exam.

Can I Keep Taking My Current Medications?

It is safe to continue taking most medications until the day of your procedure. If you are taking blood-thinning drugs, such as heparin or warfarin, then your doctor will most likely adjust the dosage prior to the EUS. Aspirin and drugs without steroids are generally safe to take before the procedure, but make sure that your doctor knows that you are taking them.

Will Antibiotics be Necessary?

Most people do not require antibiotics before or after the EUS. However, for a specialized procedure, such as draining the fluid from a cyst, you may need to take antibiotics to avoid an infection.

Do I Need Help After the Procedure?

Most EUS procedures are completed with the patient under sedation. Therefore, you will most likely need someone to drive you home after the examination. Also, be sure to have someone stay with you for the remainder of the day as the sedatives can cause you to have impaired judgment and problems with your reflexes.

What Will Happen During the EUS?

Doctors use different techniques to complete the EUS. However, when your upper gastrointestinal tract is the area that the doctor wants to examine, your throat will likely be numbed with a local anesthetic spray prior to the procedure. In addition, most endoscopists sedate their patients to ensure that they are comfortable. During the EUS, you’ll probably be asked to position yourself on your left side. After you are sedated, the doctor will slide the device through your mouth and into your esophagus. The equipment will also pass through your stomach and into the first section of your small intestine. You will be able to breathe normally during the procedure. Also, the entire examination typically takes less than an hour to complete. Depending on the type of sedation used, you may not remember having the EUS. Some people even fall asleep during the procedure.

If the EUS is to analyze your lower gastrointestinal tract, then you can choose to receive sedation for the procedure, or you can have the examination without anesthesia. However, when the doctor needs to look deep into your colon, you should expect that he or she will require you to be sedated. The procedure should take less than 45 minutes to complete.

After Your EUS

When your doctor gives you sedatives for the procedure, you will need to wait in a recovery area until the medicine has stopped affecting you. You may experience bloating after the examination because air and water will enter your body during the EUS. Also, your throat may be a little sore the next day. You will likely receive details regarding your initial results that same day. Keep in mind that it may take several days for you to receive the results from a biopsy.

Are There Complications?

Life threatening complications from EUS examinations are rare. Some patients experience bleeding, but when they do, it is typically a small amount. Perforation is one major complication that can occur from the procedure. Fortunately, the incident is uncommon. However, since complications can arise, be sure to assess the risks and advantages before having the procedure.