Lakeland Surgical & Diagnostic Center recently became the first local ambulatory surgical center to offer endoscopic ultrasound, or echo-endoscopy. The procedure is commonly used by gastroenterologists to obtain images inside a hollow organ, such as those found in the chest and abdomen.
Dr. Victor C. Nwakakwa, a gastroenterologist with Watson Clinic who also practices at Lakeland Surgical & Diagnostic Center, said that although this is not a new technology, it is a new way of using it and requires different tools, which is why it is only now being offered. However, endoscopic ultrasound offers a number of advantages over endoscopy.
“This is a procedure that couples video-endoscopic imaging, such as seen in a regular upper and lower endoscopy (EGD and colonoscopy) with ultrasound imaging through a transducer at the tip of the endoscope. The transducer emits ultrasonic waves and also receives their echo, enabling us to examine tissue within the wall of the gastrointestinal tract and organs outside the gastrointestinal tract that are nearby. Samples can be obtained from the lesion of interest using accessories that can be introduced into the lesion through the EUS scope to perform fine needle aspiration.”
Endoscopic ultrasound uses include, but are not limited to the following:
- The diagnosis of lumps and bumps in the gastrointestinal wall seen on endoscopy and thickening of the gastric wall seen on CT scan or MRI.
- The diagnosis of lesions within organs in close proximity to the GI tract such as pancreas and liver seen on other imaging studies, such as CT scan and MRI.
- Aspiration of accessible enlarged lymph nodes adjacent to the gastrointestinal tract to aid diagnosis.
- Aspiration of cysts in the pancreas to assist in diagnosis.
- Staging of cancers to help determine the best course of treatment.
- Aid in the diagnosis of anal sphincter abnormalities in conditions such as fecal incontinence.
- Celiac plexus nerve injection to help control incurable pain from pancreatic cancer.
One real benefit of endoscopic ultrasound is that it is not painful or invasive. The procedure takes just 30 to 50 minutes.
“The test is very safe, and most patients tolerate it well,” Dr. Nwakakwa said. “So the procedure helps with diagnosis and treatment, and they can have it in an ambulatory surgery center, wake up and go home.”