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Endoscopic ultrasound

Definition

Endoscopic ultrasound is a type of imaging test. It is used to see organs in and near the digestive tract.

How the Test is Performed

Ultrasound is a way to see the inside of the body using high-frequency sound waves. Endoscopic ultrasound does this with a thin, flexible tube device called an endoscope.

  • This tube is passed either through the mouth or through the rectum and into the digestive tract.
  • Sound waves are sent out the end of the tube and bounce off the organs in the body.
  • A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture of what is inside.
  • This test does not expose you to harmful radiation.

If a sample or biopsy is needed, a thin needle can be passed through the tube to collect fluid or tissue. This does not hurt.

The test takes 30 to 90 minutes to complete.

How to Prepare for the Test

Your health care provider will tell you what to do. You will be told when to stop drinking and eating before the test.

Give your provider a list of all the medicines you take (prescription and over-the-counter), herbs, and supplements. You will be told when you can take these. Some need to be stopped a week before the test. Ask your provider which medications you should take on the morning of surgery.

Since you will not be able to drive or return to work on the day of this test, you will need someone to take you home.

Why the Test is Performed

You may have this test to:

  • Find the cause of abdominal pain
  • Find the cause of weight loss
  • Diagnose diseases of the pancreas, bile duct, and gallbladder
  • Look at cysts, tumors, and cancers
  • Look for stones in the bile duct

This test can also stage cancers of the:

How the Test will Feel

Before this test you will get medicine through an IV to help you relax (a sedative). You may fall asleep or not remember the test. Some people feel the test is slightly uncomfortable.

For the first hour after this test, you may feel sleepy and unable to drink or walk. You may have a sore throat. Air or carbon dioxide gas may have been put in your digestive tract during the test to move the tube more easily. This may make you feel bloated, but this feeling will go away.

When you are fully awake, you can be taken home. Rest that day. You may have fluids and light meals.

Normal Results

The organs will appear normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

The results depend on what is found during the test. If you do not understand the results, or have questions or concerns, talk to your health care provider.

Risks

Risks for any sedation are:

  • Reactions to medicine
  • Problems breathing

Complications from this test include:

  • Bleeding
  • A tear in the lining of the digestive tract
  • Infection
  • Pancreatitis

References

McNally PR. Endoscopic ultrasound. In: McNally, ed. GI/Liver Secrets Plus. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap.72.

Wilson SR. The gastrointestinal tract. In: Rumack CM, Wilson SR, Charboneau JW, Levine D, eds. Diagnostic Ultrasound. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap.8.

Review Date: 
9/1/2014
Reviewed By: 
Joshua Kunin, MD, consulting colorectal surgeon, Zichron Yaakov, Israel. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.