Skip to main content

Endoscopic ultrasound

Center for Advanced Endoscopy

An endoscopic ultrasound exam allows your doctor to see if there is anything abnormal in your digestive tract (esophagus, stomach and upper small bowel) and other organs in this area.

An ultrasound uses sound waves to "see" the inside of your body. A computer monitor shows the images from the sound waves.

A gastroenterologist (a specially trained doctor) will pass an endoscope (a thin, flexible, lighted tube) through your mouth and stomach and then into the upper small bowel.

The exam will last about 20 to 60 minutes.

Before the exam

  • Please follow all instructions you receive carefully.
  • Most medicines may be taken up to midnight the night before the exam. Some medicines (such as aspirin and blood thinners) may need to be stopped a few days earlier.
  • Your doctor will give you directions.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke eight hours before the exam. If you do, the test will be canceled.
  • If you are having this exam as an outpatient (not staying overnight at the hospital), please arrange to have someone drive you home and stay with you. You will not be able to drive.
  • If you do not have someone to drive you home, the procedure will be canceled.

Day of the exam

  • Bring a list of your current medicines, doses, and when they should be taken.
  • Stop at the admitting desk to register.

During the exam

  • You will be asked to wear a gown.
  • A nurse will ask for your medical history.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form.
  • An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your hand or arm.
  • You will be given a medicine (through the IV) to help you relax.
  • The doctor will spray a numbing medicine on the back of your throat.
  • Your heart rate and oxygen levels will be watched.
  • The doctor will pass an endoscope through your mouth. When the tube reaches your gastrointestinal tract, a small ultrasound transducer at the end of the scope sends sound waves to a computer.
  • The doctor can look at the ultrasound images of your gastrointestinal tract, gallbladder, liver and pancreas.
  • Depending on what your doctor sees, he or she may take tissue samples (fine needle aspirate).
  • Any tissue samples will be sent to the pathology department. The sample will be tested and you will receive the results from your health care provider.

After the exam

  • The IV line will be removed.
  • The nursing staff will monitor you in the recovery area.
  • If you are an inpatient (staying in the hospital), you will be taken back to your room when you are ready to leave the recovery area.
  • If you are an outpatient, you will be in the recovery area until you are ready to go home. This usually takes about one to two hours. During that time, a nurse will monitor you. A friend or family member may also be with you.
  • Your doctor will meet with you and your family in the recovery area to talk about the exam results and a plan of care.
  • Before you leave, the nurse will give you a list of instructions to follow at home. Please follow the list carefully.

For more information, call the office of the doctor who will do the exam.


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Endoscopic Ultrasound, endo-ahc-14391
Reviewed by: Allina Patient Education experts
First Published: 03/19/2009
Last Reviewed: 03/19/2009