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Endoscopic ultrasound or ultrasonography (EUS) is a procedure performed by a physician, usually a gastroenterologist who specializes in this procedure. A thin, flexible tube with a light, camera and sonogram transducer is inserted into your gastrointestinal tract. The ultrasound probe or transducer in the tip of the echoendoscope is used to produce ultrasound images of the GI tract lining and surrounding tissues and organs. Because this ultrasound imaging is done inside the body through endoscopy, it produces significantly higher quality images than traditional ultrasound performed at the surface or skin level. Endoscopic ultrasound is most commonly utilized in the upper GI tract. However, it can be used for examination of the lower GI tract as well.
You may be referred for endoscopic ultrasound for a variety of reasons, including diagnosing issues such as stomach or abdominal pain or unexplained weight loss. It is also a preferred procedure for diagnosing bile duct stones and certain cancers such as neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas. Because this procedure produces detailed images of abnormal growths, it can play an important role in determining next steps in treatment since it is the most accurate way to stage many gastrointestinal cancers. Your gastroenterologist may obtain a tissue sample of any abnormal growth through biopsy. This may include fine needle aspiration.
Prior to your endoscopic ultrasound procedure, you will be provided several pieces of patient information, including written instructions and forms. Like other endoscopic procedures, your upper GI tract (esophagus, stomach and duodenum) must be empty of food and liquids. You must not eat or drink for at least 4-6 hours prior to your procedure. Be sure to share any health conditions, allergies and medications you are taking with the staff or nurse preparing you for your procedure. You will be given a sedative before the procedure begins.
Your endoscopic ultrasound procedure will be performed in our outpatient clinical setting (the Ambulatory Center for Endoscopy and Colonoscopy, LLC ). You will be asked to wear comfortable clothing and may be asked to wear a hospital gown. A sedative will be administered through an IV catheter placed in a vein in your arm or hand. This will help you remain calm and relaxed during the procedure. For an upper GI endoscopic ultrasound, local liquid or spray anesthetic may also be administered to your throat to calm or relieve the gag reflex. You will lie on your side and the endoscope will be carefully inserted through your mouth and down your esophagus. During the procedure, your gastroenterologist may take photos or videos and may take a tissue biopsy.
You will recover from the procedure in a recovery room. You will be given a summary of the findings of your EUS procedure with photographs. Any tissue biopsy results examined by a pathologist will be available in a few days. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home as you will not be allowed to drive for 24 hours after your procedure. Otherwise, you will be allowed to return to normal routines upon returning home. Your gastroenterologist will discuss future treatments or visits with you. They will also share results with your primary care physician or other specialists treating you. Endoscopic ultrasound is a safe procedure, but it still involves some risks, including reaction to sedatives, accidental puncture of the GI tract and problems swallowing. Discuss these risks with your physician.
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