What's it like: To get an endoscopic ultrasound

An endoscopic ultrasound is a combination of technology, combining an ultrasound with an endoscope. Endoscopy is a way of looking inside the body using an endoscope, a flexible tube that has a small camera on the end of it.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: May 26, 2013

Why get an endoscopic ultrasound?

An endoscopic ultrasound is a combination of technology, combining an ultrasound with an endoscope. Endoscopy is a way of looking inside the body using an endoscope, a flexible tube that has a small camera on the end of it.

The ultrasound uses sound waves that travel through tissue and are reflected back so that the machine can create an image of the organ or tissue that your doctor needs to see. It's used to diagnose a variety of diseases and ailments, including esophageal, pancreatic, stomach and rectal cancer.

One of the widely used applications of this procedure is endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology. Basically, this involves a needle taking samples of tissue, tumors and lymph nodes in a minimally invasive way. Endoscopic ultrasound has also been used to drain abscesses in the abdomen, chest and pelvis.

What happens?

You will be placed under some form of deep sedation. It's important that you're not moving during the procedure.

A small transducer, a wand-shaped probe, is on the tip of an endoscope. That endoscope is placed down your throat and passed through your body until your doctor reaches his or her target. Sometimes, your doctor will have to go down to your small intestine, like when your doctor needs to see your pancreas.

Your doctor might also perform fine-needle aspiration, passing a small needle into tissue or a tumor, removing enough for a sample. The sample will be sent to a lab for further evaluation.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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