Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

What Is an Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)?

An EUS is a procedure that uses sound waves to take pictures of the pancreas, bile duct and digestive tract. An endoscope is a thin, lighted tube. It enters the patient’s mouth and is passed down through the stomach and into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). A miniature ultrasound probe in the scope allows your specialist to examine the deeper layers of the stomach wall as well as surrounding organs including the liver, pancreas and bile ducts. An EUS is usually performed in hospital while under anesthesia.

When Is An Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) Needed?

An EUS is usually used to gather further information about the pancreas, liver and bile ducts that can’t be obtained by other methods (CT/MRI). Because the ultrasound probe is within the body it provides high quality pictures which can assist with diagnosing a variety of conditions. EUS is also used to obtain tissue samples, and can be used to drain fluid collections inside the body without needing to turn to surgery.

How Can I Prepare for an EUS?

It is crucial for the safety and accuracy of the procedure that your stomach is completely empty. Avoid eating or drinking 6 hours prior to your EUS.

Whilst most medications can be taken as usual with a sip of water on the day of your procedure, some medications need to be stopped, or have their dose altered. 

You should notify your doctor at least 7 days prior to your procedure if you are taking:

  • Blood thinners (plavix, warfarin, pradaxa, eliquis, xarelto etc) or
  • Diabetes medications (metformin, gliflozins, insulin etc)

Please bring your referral, a full list of your medications and your medicare card/private health fund information on the day of your procedure.

What Will Happen On the Day of Your EUS?

  1. After registering, you will be checked in by a nurse.
  2. You will then be seen by your gastroenterologist and anaesthetist who will discuss your medical history and explain the procedure.
  3. You will be given a light anaesthetic, and while this is not a general anaesthetic, most patients are very comfortable and don’t experience any pain during the procedure.
  4. Once sedated and lying comfortably on your left side, the endoscope is passed gently through your mouth and into your stomach
  5. The procedure usually takes between 15-20 minutes.

After registering at reception, you will be met by your gastroenterologist and an anaesthetist who will discuss your medical history and explain the procedure. You will then be given a light anaesthetic (sedative). While this is not a full anaesthetic, most patients are very comfortable during the procedure and experience no pain. Once sedated and lying in a comfortable position on your left side, the endoscope is passed through your mouth and into your stomach. The procedure lasts between 15 and 20 mins.

What Happens After the EUS Procedure?

Following the procedure you will be monitored in the recovery area until most of the anesthesia has worn off. You will then be offered something to eat and drink. Because of the sedative, it is essential that you have a friend or relative take you home and stay with you for several hours. It is strongly recommended that you do not drive or operate machinery on the day of your procedure.

What Are the Associated Risks and Complications?

EUS complications are very rare. Most are mild and include a sore throat, abdominal discomfort caused by retained air in the stomach.

More serious complications that often require hospitilisation include 

Pancreatitis (pancreatic swelling) ONLY if samples are taken

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Perforation (tear in the lining of the stomach)