Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a test that allows doctors to study the ducts of the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver. It uses an endoscope and X-ray imaging with contrast dye
Your doctor may recommend ERCP if you have signs or symptoms of blocked bile or pancreatic ducts due to gallstones, chronic or acute pancreatitis, trauma, tumors, or cancer.
Before the procedure, you’ll need to follow the instructions your doctor gives you carefully. Make sure your doctor knows about all medications you are on so they can tell you if and when you should stop taking them before the ERCP.
You must have a completely empty stomach for the examination. Your doctor will tell you when you need to start fasting for ERCP. Usually, it is at least 6-8 hours before the procedure. You should also refrain from smoking or chewing gum during this time.
You will be given IV sedatives or other medication to help you relax for the procedure. You may also be given a local anesthetic for your throat before the test. During endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, the doctor inserts the endoscope into your mouth, guiding it through the esophagus and stomach to the duodenum (upper part of the small intestine).
Then the doctor pumps air through the scope to better see the organs. A catheter is inserted into the endoscope until it reaches the bile and pancreatic ducts, where it is used to inject the contrast material. Once the dye is injected, X-ray images (fluoroscopy) are taken as the dye travels through the ducts. This allows doctors to check for blockages or narrowing in the ducts.
If they find blockages, they may insert special instruments through the endoscope to break up and remove stones, place stents in the ducts, or remove tumors and take biopsies.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is usually well-tolerated when performed by experts like those at Wake Endoscopy Center. Major complications are uncommon during diagnostic ECRP. Sometimes irritation to the vein used to give medication occurs and causes tenderness. In therapeutic ECRP, there is slightly more risk than with diagnostic ECRP and complications include pancreatitis, bleeding, and bowel perforation.
You will be monitored in the recovery until the sedative used for the procedure has worn off. You may have some soreness in your throat and you may feel a bit bloated and/or nauseous. You may want to eat a diet of soft foods for a day or two until the soreness in your throat resolves.
You must have someone come with you and stay through the procedure to drive you home. Unless you are given other instructions, you can return to work and your normal daily activities the next day.
Your gastroenterologist will analyze the images produced during ERCP and tell you about the findings right away. If they took biopsies, results may take a week or two to arrive.
Yes. Because sedation is used for ECRP, you must have a driver who is over the age of 18 to drive them home from their procedure. The driver MUST remain in the building and stay on-site for the entire duration of the procedure.