Endoscopic ultrasound

This information is for patients who are having endoscopic ultrasound.  It tells you what is involved and any risks that there may be. The test itself lasts up to 30 minutes and normally you will be able to go home 60-90 minutes later.

What is an EUS?

This is a specialist procedure used to investigate diseases affecting the chest or upper abdomen. The endoscopic contains a very small ultrasound scanner that can see under the surface of the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum to allow very detailed scans and biopsy of nearby organs such as the bile duct, gallbladder or pancreas or of lymph nodes or other lesions in these areas.

Preparation for the test

• for this examination to be successful and to have a clear view, your stomach must be empty. It is important to have nothing to eat for 6 hours before your test. You may drink small amounts of clear fluids and take tablets up to 2 hours before.

• if you are taking blood thinning medications (e.g. warfarin or other anticoagulants, clopidogrel or other anti-platelet agents) please inform us. You can continue to take most medications and it is important to do so, but please bring a list of them to the unit. It is important to remember to bring any asthma inhalers or angina sprays with you.

On arrival to the Endoscopy Unit

• a nurse will check your details, blood pressure and pulse. If you are allergic to anything (e.g. medicine, latex, Elastoplast), please tell the nurse.

• the procedure will be explained and you will be asked to sign a consent form confirming that you understand and agree to go ahead.

What does the examination involve?

• a local anaesthetic spray to numb the back of your throat; this has a slightly bitter taste.

• an injection of sedative into a vein in your hand, to make you sleepy. An EUS is always done with sedation and so it is important for somebody to pick you up from the hospital after the procedure.

• a device is attached to your finger to monitor your heart rate and breathing. Then while you are lying on your left side, a small mouthpiece will be placed in your mouth and you will be given oxygen.

• the EUS endoscope will gently be inserted into your stomach. The nurse will care for you during the procedure by suctioning the mouth. You are usually very drowsy during this part of the procedure.

• sometimes an antibiotic is given during the procedure. If you have allergies please let one of our nursing team know about this prior to the procedure.

After the examination

• you will rest for about 30-60 minutes. On recovery you can eat and drink when directed by the nurse.

• the result of the examination will be available before you go home.  Any biopsy results will take longer, perhaps up to two weeks.

Are there any risks?

This examination is safe but there is a small risk of the following:

• a reaction to the sedative. The sedative can affect your breathing making it slow and shallow.

• perforation (inadvertent damage creating a hole in the gut) or significant bleeding are serious but very rare. This will require a stay in hospital and sometimes surgical repair.

• infection can occur but this is very rare. Inflammation of the pancreas can happen if a pancreatic biopsy is taken but again is very rare.

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