Endoscopic ultrasound

If your doctor needs more information about your digestive health, you may be referred for an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) evaluation.

Endoscopic ultrasound combines endoscopy and ultrasound to get images and information about your digestive tract and surrounding tissue and organs. Endoscopy involves the insertion of a long, flexible tube through the mouth or anus. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images.

In a typical endoscopic ultrasound procedure, an ultrasound instrument is placed on the tip of the endoscope. Because the EUS transducer is so close to your organ(s) and tissues, the images obtained are often more accurate and detailed than with traditional ultrasound.


Pinpointing a diagnosis

Performed by a specially trained gastroenterologist while you're sedated, endoscopic ultrasound can be helpful when other tests are inconclusive or conflicting. The complication rate is very low.

Take a closer look at what endoscopic ultrasound can do:

  • Help with the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, common bile duct stones, gallstones, chronic pancreatitis or cysts of the pancreas
  • Evaluate bile duct abnormalities. These can include stones in the bile duct or gallbladder, or tumors of the bile duct, gallbladder or liver
  • Evaluate submucosal lesions such as nodules (bumps) hiding in the intestinal wall and covered by intestinal tract lining that looks normal
  • Assess a cancer's depth and its spread to adjacent tissues and lymph nodes. This can help doctors determine the stage of digestive and lung cancers. That's important because a cancer patient's prognosis is related to a cancer's stage when it's detected. When discovered at later stages, the cancer has invaded neighboring organs and lymph nodes or has spread to distant organs. This makes surgical removal highly unlikely.

The specialist also can get tissue samples — biopsies — through fine needle aspiration with endoscopic ultrasound. Guided by ultrasound, he or she will pass a special needle into enlarged lymph nodes or suspicious tumors. A pathologist then examines the tissue or cells under a microscope.