You might have heard of ultrasounds: they are a medical procedure which involves the usage of high-frequency waves in order to observe a specific internal organ through the construction of a sonogram (i.e. a ‘sound image’). The term usually comes in relation to pregnancy, as ultrasounds are the primary method through which the status of the baby is examined. Of course, that is not to say that ultrasounds are not used for other purposes – as was stated previously, they can also observe internal organs. Likewise, you might also have heard of the ‘endoscopy’ – this is another medical process which involves the use of an endoscope, a long, tubular instrument that lets a doctor see the internal organs of a patient. Endoscopies are frequently used to find issues with the digestive system, but they are used to find anomalies in the respiratory system and other areas of the body. When the above processes are combined, you get the procedure known as EUS.
EUS stands for an endoscopic ultrasound, and it is basically, as you would expect, an endoscopy aided by an ultrasound. This medical process is generally performed to find tumours and other cancerous growths, again, most usually in the digestive system (i.e. the small and large intestines, the pancreas, etc.). Other medical issues that commonly require the EUS procedure are pancreatitis, faecal incontinence and nodules in the digestive tract. The process has the endoscope additionally fitted with an ultrasound device, which enables the doctor to obtain much higher quality images of the internal organs (as opposed to performing either of the individual processes alone).
As a patient, you should know that whilst scary, an endoscopic ultrasound is relatively harmless. You will be sedated prior to the procedure, and the endoscope will be inserted into your body either through your mouth via a capsule endoscopy or anus. The camera and ultrasound device on the endoscope will allow your doctor to view images of your internal organs on a TV in the room (this is the image produced by the camera) and a separate ultrasound monitor (this is produced by the ultrasound device). Additionally, biopsies may also be taken for further examination. The entire procedure lasts about an hour, the shortest being half an hour and the longest being usually one hour and a half.
Once you are done with the exam, you will be expected to remain in the hospital or other clinical facility for another hour or two – this is to wear off the effects of the sedative you were administered. The doctor, or even a nurse, will come once again to check you in order to make sure there are no abnormalities; after this, you can safely head home. As for any potential side effects of EUS, you might experience a sore throat for a few days if the endoscope was inserted through your mouth.