ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography) allows your doctor to examine the pancreatic and bile ducts. It involves having a flexible tube known as endoscope inserted through your mouth and into the stomach. A small plastic tube known as a cannula is passed through the endoscope and into the small opening known as the ampulla.
An ERCP is performed to diagnose conditions affecting the pancreas or bile ducts. It can also be used treat those conditions. ERCP evaluates symptoms that may identify diseases in the organs and identify the cause of abnormal results from blood or imaging tests. Patients choose to have ERCP to find the source of abdominal pain, weight loss, jaundice, etc.
Before the procedure, you must ensure your stomach is empty – it is recommended to avoid having any food or drink approximately 8 hours before the examination. Current medications you may be taking may have to be adjusted as well. Discuss your specific medications and procedures regarding them with your doctor before the day of the exam.
Any allergies to medications or iodine should also be discussed with your doctor. If you have major diseases such as a heart or lung problem, these also should be reported to the doctor.
During ERCP, your throat will be sprayed with a local anesthetic to prevent gagging. A medication will be administered intravenously to help you relax. You will lie in a comfortable position while the endoscope is gently passed through your mouth, through the esophagus, and into the stomach and duodenum. The procedure will last approximately one hour.
After ERCP, you will be monitored for 1-2 hours until the sedative effects have faded. You may have a sore throat for a couple of days. Your regular diet can be resumed and the test results will be provided on the same day of the procedure.
ERCP is safe and there are few cases of complications. If you do recognize any abnormal effects or symptoms, you must notify your doctor immediately.