Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a highly specialised investigation combining two types of tests - endoscopy and ultrasound.
The consultant uses an endoscope (long, flexible telescope) with a miniature ultrasound probe attached. This is passed through the mouth, down the oesophagus into the stomach and duodenum. The ultrasound probe can give highly detailed images of the wall of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum as well as the adjacent organs – gallbladder, pancreas and bile duct.
EUS can be used to take a tissue sample (biopsy), using a fine needle that is passed through the endoscope.This is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. This technique can assist in the diagnosis of enlarged abdominal lymph nodes, cysts or tumours.
Endoscopic ultrasound may be helpful in a variety of clinical scenarios:
- EUS is the most sensitive test for diagnosis of gallbladder microlithiasis (very small gallstones which may otherwise go undetected)
- It can be used to diagnose early chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), where the clinical history is suggestive.
- It can detect cysts of the pancreas. These are common, and although usually benign it is important to identify those with the potential to become malignant (cancerous).
- It can be used to collect tissue samples from the pancreas or from lymph nodes for analysis.
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