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Endoscopic Drainage of Pancreatic Cysts

What is endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts?
Why would a doctor recommend endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts?
What does endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts involve?
How long is the recovery after endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts?

What is endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts?

Pancreatic cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form in the pancreas. Endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts uses endoscopic ultrasound to evaluate and treat pancreatic cysts. This allows your doctor to place an ultrasound probe inside the digestive (GI) tract, very close to an area where you might have problems.

Why would a doctor recommend endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts?

Most pancreatic cysts are false cysts (pseudocysts) that are not cancerous. Another kind of cyst, a cystic neoplasm, is potentially malignant, or cancerous. A doctor will use endoscopic techniques to determine the kind of cyst you might have in your pancreas. This involves drawing off some of the fluid of the cyst for study.

Your doctor can also use endoscopic ultrasound to drain a pseudocyst, relieving you of any symptoms and hopefully eliminating the need for more invasive procedures. Cystic neoplasms need to be removed through more intensive surgery.

What does endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts involve?

You will be given medication to make you relaxed and drowsy during the procedure. A small device will help keep your mouth open. You should feel no pain, and have no trouble breathing, as the doctor gently guides the endoscope - a thin, flexible tube with ultrasound equipment at its tip - down your throat to the duodenum (the place where your small intestine meets your stomach). The endoscope sends information to a monitor that displays the ultrasound images. These images help your doctor find the exact location of the cyst in your pancreas.

To analyze the cyst, the doctor will use a needle to draw off a small amount of fluid for study. To drain a pseudocyst, he or she will use a needle, and possibly a tiny plastic drain, to remove the fluid. At times, a drain is left in place to gradually empty the cyst's contents into the duodenum or stomach. Such drains will be removed six to eight weeks later.

The entire procedure will take 60 to 90 minutes.

How long is the recovery after endoscopic drainage of pancreatic cysts?

You will need to rest in a recovery area until the effects of your medication have worn off, about an hour. Someone will need to drive you home, and you should take it easy for the rest of the day. You will be able to resume your normal activities the next day.

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