“EUS represents state-of-the-art technology in diagnostic care for patients with illnesses such as gastrointestinal (GI) cancers,” says Dr. Jamil Akhras, a gastroenterologist at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. “The test shows great accuracy and provides more details about these cancers. The more accurate the diagnosis, the better we are able to treat cancer.”
The procedure is performed by inserting a long flexible tube — via the mouth or rectum — in order to visualize the digestive tract. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the organs and structures inside the body, and provides physicians with detailed pictures of the digestive tract. Additionally, tissue samples may be obtained at this time.
Physicians can use EUS to diagnose the cause of conditions, such as abdominal pain or abnormal weight loss. When a physician has ruled out certain conditions, EUS can confirm a diagnosis and give patients a clean bill of health.
Traditional ultrasound sends sound waves to the organ and back with a transducer placed on the skin overlying the organs of interest. However, the pictures produced are not always of high quality.
With EUS, there is a small ultrasound transducer on the tip of the endoscope. By inserting the endoscope into the upper or the lower digestive tract, doctors are able to get very close to the organs and get high-quality ultrasound images.
EUS can also give doctors information about the layers of the intestinal wall, as well as adjacent areas such as lymph nodes and the blood vessels. Other uses of EUS include the study of blood flow inside blood vessels. Additionally, doctors are able to obtain tissue samples by passing a special needle called “fine needle aspiration” (FNA) into enlarged lymph nodes or suspicious tumors. The tissue or cells obtained by the needle can be examined by a pathologist under a microscope.
Please contact the SJMO referral line at 800.372.6094 for a gastroenterologist near you.