Doctor taking blood pressure of patient.

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

In order to better evaluate conditions like pancreatitis, bile duct stones and cancers that affect the digestive system, your doctor will likely recommend an endoscopic ultrasound. The procedure is non-invasive and can help in assessing how a tumor is affecting your body, allowing your doctor to determine next steps for your treatment and wellbeing. At Providence, we make sure to provide these types of accurate and precise diagnostic procedures in a caring and empathetic environment.

An endoscopic ultrasound, sometimes called an echo-endoscopy or simply EUS, is a diagnostic procedure used to image, inspect and diagnose conditions within the gastrointestinal tract and nearby organs, such as the pancreas and liver.

Similar to an upper endoscopy procedure, EUS uses an endoscope to view the condition of your digestive organs. However, unlike an upper endoscopy, EUS has the added benefit of an ultrasound transducer within the endoscope. 

The ultrasound transducer allows your doctor to use soundwaves to view organs like the pancreas, which are often difficult to image because of their location in the body. With an EUS, your doctor can carefully evaluate sensitive conditions like pancreatitis, as well as determine the size and malignancy of tumors and cysts. 

The detailed images created by the EUS allow for accurate diagnoses and help determine next steps for your treatment. 

In order to image your gastrointestinal tract, an endoscope (a thin and responsive tube) with a tiny camera at the end is inserted into your body via either the mouth or rectum. Through a monitor, your doctor inspects and records the various regions of your digestive tract. 

As your doctor examines your digestive tract, the ultrasound transducer within the endoscope emits high-frequency sound waves to different parts of your chest and abdomen.

The transducer picks up the reflected waves, which are then converted into an electronic picture of your internal organs. Those reflected sound waves are taken by the sonogram machine and electronically rendered on screen to produce live images of the internal organs as they operate.

Should your doctor notice any abnormality within these organs, they may take a sample of tissue (biopsy) for further analysis.

During your EUS procedure, you will receive sedative medication to ensure a comfortable procedure. If the endoscope is to be inserted via the mouth, an anesthetic spray is applied to the back of your throat to numb it. If necessary, a guard is placed in your mouth to keep it from closing. 

The procedure in generally painless and lasts between 10 and 15 minutes. Because the EUS involves entry into the gastrointestinal tract, it’s important to not eat any solid foods at least six hours prior to your procedure. 

Endoscopic ultrasound is a safe, non-invasive diagnostic procedure. Despite the unlikelihood of a complication occurring, the procedure does carry certain risks. These risks include nausea, heartburn, soreness of the throat and difficulty swallowing after the procedure, as well as drowsiness from the sedative medications. There is also a slight risk of pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas) should a biopsy of the pancreas take place.