What is ERCP?

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP is a procedure to examine the bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder.

Why do I need ERCP?

There are several reasons for people to have ERCP. The most common reason is to remove stones from the bile duct that may be causing blockage. Other reasons are to diagnose bile duct or pancreatic cancer, to place a stent if there is blockage in the bile or pancreatic duct, etc.

Can I take all my medications before ERCP?

Dr Kethu may ask you to stop some medications temporarily, particularly aspirin products, or blood thinners, etc.

What to expect during ERCP?

You will be given intravenous sedation to perform this procedure comfortably without any pain or discomfort. While you are asleep, an endoscope is passed through the mouth gently into the upper gastrointestinal tract. The endoscope doesn’t interfere with your breathing. Once the scope is passed all the way into the small intestine, a thin catheter is passed into the bile duct and a dye injected so that the bile ducts can be seen using x-rays (fluoroscopy). Sometimes the opening of the bile duct will be cut by making a small incision if there are stones that need to be removed or if a stent needs to be placed.

What to expect after ERCP?

You will be monitored closely until most of the effects of the medications have worn off. You cannot drive yourself to home after the procedure. You need someone to pick you up.
You can resume most of the normal activities after the procedure. You may have some sore throat. You can resume normal food intake unless instructed otherwise. Dr. Kethu may ask you to hold the blood thinners for several days after the procedure to prevent any bleeding.

What are the complications of ERCP?

Like any medical procedure complications may happen. Bleeding, perforation (whole or tear in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract) that may require surgery, infection are some of the complications. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is another complication especially in young women. Some patient’s may have breathing or heart problems secondary to sedation.

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