What Can I Expect from
My EUS Procedure?
During an EUS procedure, the physician is able to place the scope very close to the pancreas. Anatomically, the pancreas is situated just behind your stomach and right in front of your spine. Therefore, an endoscope placed in your stomach and in the first part of your small intestine allows for easy visualization of your entire pancreas with an ultrasound probe located at the tip of the endoscope. Because the ultrasound probe is so close to the pancreas, the physician is able to see tumors within the pancreas and determine their size and location.
He or she can determine whether the tumor has grown beyond the pancreas and if it has touched other vital structures that may influence treatment. It is also possible to detect lymph nodes that may be enlarged due to tumor spread. Access to and visualization of the pancreas from the outside of the body is difficult using conventional ultrasound since the pancreas sits behind the stomach. Interfering gas in the stomach can prevent clear visualization of the pancreas, and the increased distance of the pancreas from the ultrasound probe makes a needle biopsy more challenging.
Your physician likely ordered an EUS exam based on, one or a combination of, the following: symptoms, blood test results and/or results of other procedures, such as a CT scan or MRI. If a tumor is suspected to be present in the pancreas, the physician will be able to visualize and evaluate it, as well as surrounding organs with EUS. For instance, a large portion of the liver can also be visualized to look for any concerning lesions. It is important to define not just the nature of a pancreatic mass, but also the extent of the tumor’s involvement with other structures.