Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography
ERCP examines problems in the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. The liver is an important organ that creates the liquid (bile) that assists in digestion. The gallbladder is smaller and stores the bile. The pancreas produces chemicals that help in digestion and stores insulin.
An ERCP is performed to diagnose conditions of the bile ducts such as gallstones, scars, leaks, and cancer. X-rays and tubes known as endoscopes are utilized for the procedure. The stomach and duodenum can be fully visualized through the endoscope. Dyes are injected into the ducts and pancreas to make them more visible in x-rays.
A sedative can be administered during the procedure to keep you in a relaxed state. The endoscope is swallowed and guided through your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. It eventually reaches the ducts of the biliary free and pancreas. Your body position may be changed to accommodate the tube. X-rays will be taken where the dyed areas have been marked.
ERCP can cause complications such as inflammation of the pancreas, infection, and bleeding. These are relatively uncommon, any tenderness or lump will dissipate within a few days following the treatment.
The length of ERCP can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Discomfort will be minimized through pain medication and sedatives. To prepare for ERCP, avoid eating or drinking anything at least 6-8 hours before the treatment. Check with your physician if you have a history of allergies. You can also bring an escort if you are unable to operate a motor vehicle because of the sedatives.