Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a procedure performed to allow a doctor to obtain images of the digestive tract and surrounding organs and tissue and organs, including the lungs. In ultrasound testing, sound waves are used to create a picture of the internal organs.

During the procedure, a tiny ultrasound device is put on the tip of an endoscope. The endoscope is a small, flexible tube with a light and camera attached. The endoscope and camera are inserted into the upper or the lower digestive tract, allowing for the doctor to get high-quality ultrasound images of organs. The EUS procedure is able to get close to the organs under examination, and therefore the images from EUS are usually more accurate and detailed than images from traditional ultrasound, which travels from outside the body.

When Is Endoscopic Ultrasound Used?

Endoscopic ultrasound may be used to:

  • Evaluate different stages of cancer.
  • Evaluate chronic pancreatitis or other disorders and issues of the pancreas.
  • Study tumors or abnormalities in organs, including the liver and gallbladder.
  • Examine the muscles of the lower rectum and anal canal in order to determine causes for fecal incontinence (accidental bowel leakage).
  • Examine nodules (bumps) on the intestinal wall.

What Happens During an Endoscopic Ultrasound?

A person undergoing EUS will be sedated before the procedure. After sedation, an endoscope is inserted into the patient’s mouth or rectum by the doctor. The doctor will examine the inside of the intestinal tract on a TV monitor and the image generated by the ultrasound on another monitor. Also, the sound wave testing can be used to identify and take biopsies (small pieces of tissue to examine by microscope). The entire procedure typically takes 30 to 90 minutes and the patient often can go home on the same day as the procedure.