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Endoscopic Ultrasound: What Exactly Is It?

For many people, the word “ultrasound” conjures up images of being at the OB/GYN office and seeing images of their baby in the womb. For some, ultrasound might mean a means to lessen pain or to identify the source of the pain. However, there are many other ways that ultrasound equipment can be used. One such approach is endoscopic ultrasound.

Endoscopic ultrasound, sometimes referred to as EUS, is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to determine digestive issues as well as lung related concerns. It is an outpatient procedure that leaves most people feeling fine and in little to no pain. It is used to find the cause of problems such as abdominal or chest pain, and is often used in conjunction with findings from a CT scan or MRI to help in the evaluation of the following:

·      Cancer of the colon, esophagus, lung, pancreas or stomach, and ampullary and rectal cancers

·      Lymphoma

·      Barrett’s esophagus

·      Neuroendocrine tumors

·      Pancreatitis and pancreatic cysts

·      Bile duct stones

·      Sarcoidosis

Because endoscopic ultrasound is usually performed by giving the patient a mild sedative, EUS is a more appealing choice for people who have a cancer that affects the gastrointestinal tract. When a doctor uses EUS for a cancer patient, they can more accurately determine the depth of the cancer and find out whether it has spread to adjacent lymph glands or nearby blood vessels.

One of the most common uses of endoscopic ultrasound in regards to cancer treatment is for those with pancreatic cancer. And while CT scans and MRIs have their benefits, they can cause some stress, and in the event of CT scans, expose the patient to radiation. However, EUS approach offers several advantages over these options. They include:

·      The EUS is minimally invasive, so results are better and images are clearer.

·      You don’t have to be concerned with radiation exposure.

·      Some patients cannot handle CT scans due to allergies or kidney problems which means any images will not be as clear as the doctor needs, but with endoscopic ultrasound the doctor can get images that tell the whole story.

·      Unlike MRIs that can cause patients who struggle with claustrophobia to stress and make images less than clear, choosing EUS means they don’t have to be concerned about space issues.

·      Because the EUS has a small scope and video camera on it, the physician can more easily determine issues that are related to the esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestine.

·      Using the endoscopic ultrasound allows physicians to collect pancreatic biopsies safely, and at the time of the exam, which means quicker results and treatments.

·      It is a short procedure (30minutes to 1 hour) performed on an outpatient basis with light sedation and anesthesia, reducing risks and speeding recovery.

·      EUS is less costly than exploratory surgery saving both in time and money.

The endoscopic ultrasound is a great tool that allows better diagnosis and treatments. If you are considering an upgrade for your office, give the National Ultrasound team a call today.