Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your body. An endoscopic ultrasound allows your doctor to place an ultrasound probe inside the digestive (GI) tract, very close to an area where you might have problems. These images are far more detailed than those of a traditional ultrasound.
- If you have cancer of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, rectum, or lungs
- If you have problems in your gallbladder or bile ducts, including gallstones
- If you have pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), or growths in the pancreas
- To study the muscles and/or lining of your lower digestive (GI) tract
An endoscopic ultrasound can be performed in the upper digestive (GI) tract, or the lower GI tract. You will be given medication to make you relaxed and drowsy, and will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.
For an endoscopic ultrasound of the upper GI tract, your doctor will first take a look inside your body with an endoscope, which is a tiny video camera mounted on a thin, flexible tube with a light at the end. This allows the doctor to see the swallowing tube (the esophagus), the stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine.
A small device will help keep your mouth open during the procedure. You should feel no pain, and have no trouble breathing, as the doctor gently inserts the endoscope through your mouth and into your throat.
After this scope is removed, a thin, flexible tube with the ultrasound equipment at its tip will be gently guided down your throat and to the site of the organs that need to be studied. This probe sends information to a monitor that displays the ultrasound images.
For an endoscopic ultrasound of the lower GI tract, your doctor first will use a gloved and lubricated finger to gently open the anus before slowly inserting the ultrasound probe. This may be mildly uncomfortable at first. Again, the thin, flexible tube will be gently guided to the site of the organs that need to be studied.
The procedure generally takes between 30 and 90 minutes. An endoscopic ultrasound of the lower GI tract often takes less time than one of the upper GI tract.
You will need some time in the recovery room for the effects of the pain medication to wear off. You will not be alert enough to drive on your own, so make sure a family member or friend can take you home. Plan on resting for the remainder of the day.
If you did not receive any sedation - as is sometimes the case with a lower GI endoscopic ultrasound - you will be allowed to resume your normal activities after leaving the hospital or doctor's office.
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