Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography (ERCP) enables the physician to diagnose problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas.
ERCP may be used to discover the reason for jaundice, upper abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. ERCP combines the use of x-rays and an endoscope, which is a long, flexible, lighted tube. Through it, the physician can see the inside of the stomach, duodenum, and ducts in the biliary tree and pancreas.
The Procedure During the procedure the patient will lie on their left side on an examining table in an x-ray room. Medication to help numb the back of the throat as well as a sedative will be administered to help the patient relax during the exam.
1.You will swallow the endoscope. 2.The physician will guide the endoscope through your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum until it reaches the area where the ducts of the bilary tree and pancreas open into the duodenum. 3.You will be turned to lie flat on your stomach and the physician will pass a small plastic tube through the endoscope to inject a dye into the ducts. 4.A radiographer will begin taking x-rays as soon as the dye is injected. If the exam shows a gallstone or narrowing of the ducts, the physician can insert instruments into the endoscope to remove or work around the obstruction Also, tissue samples (biopsy) may be taken if further testing is deemed necessary. This procedure takes 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Preparing For Your Appointment Your stomach and duodenum must be completely empty for the procedure to be accurate and safe. You will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure, or for 6 to 8 hours beforehand, depending on the time of your procedure. Also, the physician will need to know whether you have any allergies, especially to iodine, which is in the dye. You also must arrange for someone to take you home as you will not be allowed to drive due to the sedatives necessary for the procedure.
After Your Appointment ERCP is done as an outpatient procedure. After the exam is finished you will After the procedure, you will need to stay for another 2-3 hours of recovery or until the sedative wears off. The physician will make sure you do not have signs of complications before you leave. Although unlikely, occasionally patients require an overnight hospital stay before discharge. If any kind of treatment is done during the ERCP, such as removing a gallstone, an overnight stay is possible.
Risks Possible complications of ERCP include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), infection, bleeding, and perforation of the duodenum. However, such problems are uncommon. You may have tenderness or a lump where the sedative was injected, but that should go away in a few days or weeks.