What is an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)?

An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is like an endoscopy, but the endoscope has an ultrasound probe on the tip. The probe uses sound waves to make pictures of organs in the body.

It is usually used to measure the cancer and to see if it has spread (staging). This includes looking at nearby lymph nodes, and taking tissue samples (biopsies) if needed. It can also be used to help diagnose some types of cancer.

Before an endoscopic ultrasound

Your doctor or nurse will explain what an endoscopic ultrasound is and what to expect. They will tell you if you need to do anything beforehand. For example, if you should not eat or drink for a period of time before the procedure.

The doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax. They also spray a local anaesthetic on to the back of your throat to numb it.

Having an endoscopic ultrasound

The doctor passes a small, flexible tube (endoscope) through your mouth, down your throat and into the food pipe (oesophagus). The oesophagus is just behind your windpipe and close to some lymph nodes inside the chest. They may pass it further in to your stomach and into the small bowel (duodenum). This will depend on what areas of the body the doctor wants to look at.

The ultrasound also helps guide the specialist doctor to the area they want to take samples of tissue (biopsies) from.

After an endoscopic ultrasound

Most people are ready to go home a couple of hours after the test. It is a good idea to arrange for someone to collect you from the hospital. This is because you should not drive for 24 hours after having a sedative.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our pancreatic cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk

    British Society of Gastroenterology. Guidelines for the management of patients with pancreatic cancer peri-ampullary and ampullary carcinomas. 2005.

    European Society for Medial Oncology. Cancer of the pancreas: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology, 2015. 26 (Supplement 5): v56 to v68.

    Fernandez-del Castillo. Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and staging of exocrine pancreatic cancer. UpToDate online. Jan 2018.

    Fernandez-del Castillo C, et al. Supportive care of the patient with locally advanced or metastatic exocrine pancreatic cancer. UpToDate online. Feb 2017. 

    Winter JM, et al. Cancer of the pancreas, DeVita Hellman and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (10th edition). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. 2016.


  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Professor Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

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