An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a minimally invasive test to obtain information about the digestive tract. An EUS combines two diagnostic tools:
- Endoscope, a thin, flexible, lighted tube that is inserted into your body through a natural opening, allowing the doctors to get a closer look at the inside of your body
- Ultrasound uses sound waves to generate detailed images of your body on a monitor
At MedStar Georgetown, our nationally recognized gastroenterologists perform approximately 1,200 EUS procedures yearly-the largest volume in the area.
Why perform an Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)?
During an EUS, your doctor attaches a tiny ultrasound transducer (probe) on the tip of the endoscope. This allows your doctor to get high-quality ultrasound images of the inside of your body. An EUS can be used to:
- Detect tumors in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
- Biopsy tumors in the GI tract. This is when the doctor removes a tissue sample from a suspicious mass and sends it to a pathology lab for analysis and diagnosis.
- Stage tumors in the GI tract, which is when the doctor determines the extent of the spread of the cancerous tumor (Stage I, II, III or IV).
- Assess esophageal, gastric, pancreatic and rectal cancers.
- Detect common bile duct stones.
Fine needle aspiration during EUS
Sometimes, using ultrasound as a guide, the doctor will thread a thin needle down the endoscope into an enlarged lymph node or a suspicious mass. The needle then removes tissue from the sites, and the doctor sends the sample to a pathologist for diagnosis. This is called fine needle aspiration (FNA).
EUS with FNA is a more complicated procedure than EUS alone and requires an experienced specialist for the best results. At MedStar Georgetown, our gastroenterologists perform more than 900 EUS with FNA yearly, and our accuracy rate is more than 90 percent.
What should I expect from an EUS procedure?
During an EUS, your doctor attaches a tiny ultrasound transducer (probe) on the tip of the endoscope to get high-quality ultrasound images of the inside of your body.
Before the EUS:
- Inform your doctor about any allergies, health issues or medications you take; if your doctor will be performing FNA as well, you need to be checked for proper blood clotting.
- You will be sedated; plan to have someone there to drive you home after the procedure. You will not be able to return to work for 24 hours.
- The procedure is performed in an outpatient clinic, so you can return home the same day.
- Your stomach needs to be empty. You cannot eat or drink anything after midnight prior to the procedure.
During the EUS:
- Your doctor tells you about the procedure and asks you to sign a consent form.
- You receive an IV, which is used to give you sedatives as well as other medications and fluids.
- Your doctor inserts the endoscope with the ultrasound probe attached and observes the inside of your GI tract. The images are shown on a nearby monitor.
- FNA is performed, if necessary.
- The procedure lasts between 30 and 90 minutes.
- Once the procedure is finished and the effects of the sedatives have worn off, your doctor discusses the findings with you.
- You are able to go home, where you should rest for the remainder of the day.