Endoscopic ultrasound is a newer gastrointestinal procedure that combines use of video-endoscopy and ultrasonography to obtain diagnostic information about various gastrointestinal diseases. It is useful to evaluate the stage of gastrointestinal tumors and define the best therapeutic strategy.
Most frequently, endoscopic ultrasound is performed to stage cancers of the esophagus, the pancreas and the rectum. Endoscopic ultrasound has the capacity to identify the depth of tumor invasion through the gastrointestinal wall and the presence of lymph node involvement. This information is critical in order to determine whether the tumor is removable by surgery and if so to decide what the optimal surgical operation is. It also defines whether chemotherapy and radiation are indicated as part of the treatment strategy and the optimal timing of administration in relation to the surgical operation.
Endoscopic ultrasound also provides the capability to obtain directed samples of tissue from organs outside the gastrointestinal tract such as the pancreas and lymph nodes when they appear abnormal. A fine needle guided by ultrasound visualization is inserted through the gastrointestinal wall into the examined organ and tissue cells are aspirated. The specimen is sent for cytologic examination to provide information about the presence of malignancy.
The risks of endoscopic ultrasound include gastrointestinal bleeding, perforation and drug reaction. Fine needle aspiration also carries a risk of causing an infection. This risk is minimized by administration of appropriate antibiotics prior to the procedure. Your physician will determine if antibiotics are required.