The benefits of an endoscopic ultrasound

Written by: Dr Mark Austin
Published: | Updated: 20/02/2020
Edited by: Laura Burgess

Endoscopy is a department where specialist equipment or cameras (endoscopes) are passed directly inside the human body. These cameras can be passed into the throat, lungs, stomach, small bowel, bile ducts, large bowel and bladder by specially trained medical professionals or endoscopists.

An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a procedure where a specially adapted ultrasound probe is placed on the end of an endoscope to obtain high-quality images of the organs inside the body. Expert gastroenterologist Mr Mark Austin explains when a EUS is necessary and the advantages of the procedure.

How does endoscopic ultrasound work?

The endoscope is passed through the mouth and gullet, into the stomach and small bowel, as in a normal gastroscope examination. As the endoscope is slightly larger than a standard scope and the fact that the procedure takes slightly longer, sedation is always used.

Read more: gastroscopy

What is the purpose of an endoscopic ultrasound?

When the ultrasound probe is placed within the body, it allows very detailed pictures of specific structures or organs deep inside. The area in question can then be seen and assessed with special software in the ultrasound processing unit or scanner. This software allows for the determination of the position of local blood vessels, whether the lesion is solid or liquid or whether there are characteristics seen with tumours or cancers. Importantly, the lesion or area can then be sampled with a needle passed through the scope. This piece of tissue is sent to the laboratory allowing for analysis and to aid diagnosis.

Read more: reasons for endoscopic ultrasound

What are the risks of this procedure?

This endoscopic procedure carries very little risk to patients, without any exposure to X-rays or radiation. The risks can be very simple from a sore throat or bloating to more serious complications, which obviously depend on what intervention is performed.

What are the advantages of an endoscopic ultrasound?

The benefits of this procedure over standard abdominal ultrasound scan, MRI or CT scan are well recognised and it is used preferentially to gain tissue and accurately understand the particular stage of cancer. The organs that can be seen and easily sampled include the oesophagus or gullet, lymph nodes, the stomach, liver, adrenals and pancreas gland. It is very useful for confirming gallstone disease, underlying liver disorders and pancreatic abnormalities including cancer. The procedure lasts about 30 minutes and you will receive a report at the end informing you of all the results.

Do not hesitate to book an appointment with a specialist

By Dr Mark Austin

Dr Mark Austin is an experienced consultant gastroenterologist based in Brighton, Hove and Haywards Heath. He is an expert in the investigation and management of gastrointestinal problems, including abdominal pain, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), hiatal hernias and food intolerances. He also specialises in hepatology, caring for patients with liver disease, hepatitis and jaundice. Before working as a consultant, Dr Austin spent six years at the Liver Unit at Kings College Hospital treating patients who had undergone live transplantation. Here he also completed his research on the survival characteristics of patients with end-stage liver disease.

Dr Austin is a very advanced interventional endoscopist, carrying out all variations on endoscopy, including colonoscopy, ERCP, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and gastroscopy. These allow Dr Austin to achieve a very close examination of the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and digestive tract. Additional to being a consultant, he is also the Clinical Lead for endoscopy at his NHS posting. Dr Austin is very committed to putting his patients first, and most recently he has enabled a much improved referral pathway for rapid access and diagnosis for patients with lower gastrointestinal symptoms.

Dr Mark Austin is keenly involved in teaching, acting as director for the annual South East endoscopy symposium, as well as taking time out of his busy schedule to train and teach endoscopy skills to other doctors in both the UK and overseas.

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