Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
What Is ERCP?
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure that uses a flexible endoscope to visualize the biliary and pancreatic ducts. The endoscope is passed through the mouth and stomach into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). A contrast dye is then injected into the pancreatic and biliary ducts to help visualize them on X–ray. ERCP can be used to diagnose and treat problems of the biliary and pancreatic ducts, such as gallstones, pancreatitis, and cancer. The procedure can also be used to relieve obstruction of the biliary or pancreatic ducts. If you are experiencing symptoms that may be related to problems with your biliary or pancreatic ducts, your doctor may recommend ERCP. These symptoms may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
Why Do Providers Use ERCP?
There are a few reasons why providers use ERCP. One reason is that it is a minimally invasive procedure, so it carries less risk than some other procedures. Another reason providers may use ERCP is that it is less expensive than surgery. Additionally, ERCP can be used to both diagnose and treat certain conditions. For example, if a provider suspects that a patient has a blockage in their bile duct, they may use ERCP to confirm the diagnosis and then to place a stent to open the blockage. ERCP is also used to treat conditions such as pancreatitis and gallstones. In some cases, ERCP may be the only treatment option available.
How Do I Prepare For ERCP?
Patients typically fast for 6–8 hours before the procedure and are given sedatives to help them relax. It is important to inform the doctor of any allergies, particularly to contrast dyes, as well as any medications that are being taken. The medical team will also need to know if the patient has had any previous procedures, such as a gastric bypass. Patients will be asked to sign a consent form before the procedure can begin. They will then be taken to the procedure room and asked to lie on the table. A nurse will insert an IV line into the patient’s arm and the doctor will begin the procedure.
How Is An ERCP Performed?
What Should I Expect After An ERCP?
After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be monitored closely. You may experience some cramping and bloating as the gas used to inflate your intestine during the procedure is slowly released. The procedure will not keep you from going home the same day. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and eat a light diet for the rest of the day. You should avoid lying flat on your back for at least four hours after the procedure to decrease the risk of bleeding. If you feel anxious, a sedative may be given to help you relax. You should avoid drinking alcohol or driving for the rest of the day. You may also need to take it easy for the rest of the day and avoid strenuous activity. You should also make arraignments for a ride home.
What Are The Risks Of An ERCP?
The most common complication from an ERCP is pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. This can be a mild condition that resolves on its own, or a more severe form that requires hospitalization. Other risks include bleeding, infection, and perforation of the gastrointestinal tract. While the risks of an ERCP are generally low, it is important to discuss them with your doctor prior to the procedure. This way, you can make an informed decision about whether or not the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks. If you have any concerns about the risks of an ERCP, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. The risks and benefits of the procedure can be provided to you in more detail by them.
Most of the information on this page can be found at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/endoscopic-retrograde-cholangiopancreatography