Endoscopic ultrasound

What is endoscopic ultrasound?

Endoscopic ultrasound is an exploration that combines endoscopy with ultrasound (examination by ultrasound). An ultrasound probe is brought close to the organ to be studied thanks to an endoscope. It is used to search for or explore lesions of the digestive tract or neighboring organs.

What is the purpose of endoscopic ultrasound?

Endoscopic ultrasound is the most effective way to study the lining of the esophagus, stomach or duodenum and the surrounding organs. This technique can also be used to look for stones, cysts, or tumors in the bile ducts or pancreas. It enables to obtain information that cannot be provided by the other explorations. In some cases, it can allow the removal of tissue fragments by puncture in order to investigate them under the microscope.


The examination takes 10 to 20 minutes on average. However, the entire procedure, meaning  installation in the examination room, administration of sedation, performance of the examination, awakening, and return to the recovery room, can take up to 1 hour. The patient should wait at least 1 hour in the recovery room to be monitored and enable the effects of the sedation to wear off.

How to prepare for it?

In order for the exam to go as planned, the stomach must be empty. You should not eat, drink or smoke for 6 hours before the examination. Always inform your doctor of any allergies or drug intake. Before the examination, false teeth and glasses must be removed.


The examination uses a flexible device called an echo-endoscope. A sedative is often administered to improve the tolerance of the examination. Sedation consists in injecting a sedative into a vein to allow for optimal relaxation during the examination. It is common that this sedative causes you to forget what happened during the examination. Thus, you might remember little of it.

A general anesthesia may be offered and scheduled if the examination is likely to last longer or if it is combined with another endoscopic examination. In the case of general anesthesia, it is the responsibility of the anesthesiologist to answer any questions you might have about his or her specialty.

Between each patient and following the current recommendations, the endoscope is disinfected and the accessories are sterilized or discarded (single-use material) in order to avoid any transmission of infections.

Risks and discomforts

The examination is not painful, as it does not cause breathing difficulties because the endoscope does not go into the lungs. Inconveniences, such as discomfort in the throat, bloating, or nausea, are common. Sometimes, you may not remember the examination because of the effect of the painkillers administered.


Any medical act, exploration, intervention on the human body, even if carried out in conditions of competence and safety in accordance with the current data of medicine and current regulations, contains a risk of complications. Complications of endoscopic ultrasound are exceptional.

Perforations, in particular esophageal perforations, can occur. They are often favored by underlying lesions like tumors.  A surgical intervention, with its own risks, may then be necessary.

Other complications are possible, such as cardiovascular, respiratory disorders, or infections. In the case of collections, rare cases of infection or hemorrhage have been reported. Surgical interventions and blood or blood derivative transfusions are sometimes necessary.

These complications may be exacerbated by your medical and surgical history or by the use of certain medications. All these complications occur most often during the echo-endoscopy but can also appear a few days after the examination, in form of abdominal or thoracic pain, fever, chills, etc.

It is then essential to contact immediately the doctor or the anesthetist who took care of you at the following telephone number: 02/764 28 23 or 02/764 11 11 by asking for the person call 4 28 39. If you are unable to contact him/her, it is very important to contact your doctor as soon as possible.

The return home

It is recommended that you do not drive a vehicle on the day of an examination performed under sedation or anesthesia because sedatives can affect your reflexes or your judgment. The return home must therefore be ensured by a third party. For the same reasons, you are also advised not to make important decisions on the day of the examination that require your full lucidity.

You may be asked to stay in hospital for monitoring after the examination, particularly in the event of a sample or complication.

Antibiotics may be prescribed for a period of 5 days in case of tissue sampling.

Additional information

Ultrasound, CT scan and sometimes MRI are often performed before the echo-endoscopy which aims to clarify the results of these examinations. Echo-endoscopy is currently the most sensitive examination to detect very small abnormalities in the bile duct or pancreas (small stones or tumors).

The doctor is at your disposal for any further information.


Hepato-gastroenterology consultation secretariat

+32 2 764 28 23
Floor: -2 Road: 606