What is ERCP?
Colon-and-rectal-colonoscopy-by-7-Hill-Gastroenterology-of-FloridaEndoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a highly specialized technique often used in conjunction with Endoscopic ultrasound.   ERCP is used to examine the drainage routes (ducts) of the pancreas, gallbladder and liver (bile or bilary ducts).    Patients experiencing lower back pain, jaundice and pancreatitis may undergo this procedure to locate gall stones which may have moved to the common bile duct.

There are two types of ERCP:   Therapeutic and Diagnostic

During ERCP procedure your doctor will place an endoscope through your mouth, pass through the esophagus and stomach into the first part of the small intestine. Once the common opening to ducts from the liver and pancreas come into view,  a narrow catheter is inserted through the endoscope into these ducts to inject a iodine dye for taking X-rays.

What Preparation is Required?
You will be asked to fast for a period of time or maintain a liquid diet for a few days before the procedure to ensure an empty stomach necessary for a safe and proper examination.

Let your doctor know about all medications you take regularly, any allergies you may have to medications, particularly iodine-containing drugs, which include contrast material, and if you have heart or lung conditions, or other major diseases.  As a patient, you must make arrangements to have someone take you home from the outpatient procedure due to the sedatives used which may affect your judgment and relax your body for the rest of the day.

What Can I Expect During ERCP?
You may expect to receive a sedative and local anesthetic for your throat to help you relax and might receive antibiotics before the procedure. As you lay your left side down on an X-ray table, the doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth, esophagus, stomach and into the duodenum. The instrument will not obstruct your breathing, but may create a bloating sensation due to air introduced by the instrument.

What Are Possible Complications of ERCP?
For 7 Hill patients, ERCP is a tolerable procedure performed by our specially trained and experienced doctors. Complications requiring hospitalization are uncommon and may include pancreatitis, infections, bowel perforation and bleeding. Most complications are managed without surgery and some patients can have adverse reactions to the sedative used.

Risks vary, depending upon your situation.  Ask your doctor about your potential risks and rewards based on the tests performed, what is sought during the procedure, and necessary therapeutic intervention to be undertaken and how this may related to existing major medical problems. The risk of complications is lower in diagnostic ERCP as compared to therapeutic (such as for stone removal).  You will discuss with 7 Hill doctors your likelihood of complications before you undergo the test.

What Can I Expect After ERCP?
Patients must be accompanied home from the outpatient procedure due to the sedatives used which may affect your judgment and relax your body for the rest of the day.  You may experience bloating or gas because of the air introduced during the examination. Unless otherwise instructed, you may resume your usual diet.