|What is an ERCP?
An ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) is a specialized
endoscopic technique used to visualize the drainage ducts of the gallbladder,
pancreas and liver. A small diameter endoscope is passed through
the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and into the first part of the small intestine
(duodenum). A very small plastic tube (catheter) is inserted through
the scope and into the opening of the bile ducts. Dye is injected
through the catheter and x-rays are taken.
Do I really need an ERCP?
ERCP is often times necessary to diagnosis diseases some diseases of
the liver, gallbladder or pancreas. It can provide information used
to determine whether or not surgery is necessary. In many cases gallstones
that have become lodged in the bile duct can be removed during ERCP, avoiding
What preparation is required?
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day before your
test. If you take a blood thinning medication, coumadin or aspirin,
do not take it for 5 days prior to your exam. Please inform the
doctor if you have any allergies to drugs before your test, or if you are
allergic to iodine or shellfish. A companion must accompany
you to the examination because you will be given medication to help you
relax. It will make you drowsy, so you will need someone to drive
you home. You will not be able to drive after the procedure.
Even though you may not feel tired, your judgment and reflexes may not
be normal. Please bring any x-rays with you, if requested.
Plan on arriving at the hospital one hour before your test is scheduled.
What should I expect during the procedure?
Your doctor will give you medication through a vein to make you relaxed
and sleepy. While you are lying on your stomach, the endoscope is
inserted through the mouth, esophagus, stomach and into the duodenum.
X-rays will be taken after dye is injected into the bile ducts.
The procedure is extremely well tolerated with little or no discomfort.
The scope will not interfere with your breathing. Gagging is usually
prevented by the medication. The procedure usually lasts five to
What happens after the test?
You will be kept in the recovery area until most of the effects of
the medication have worn off. If any evidence of complications is
observed you may be hospitalized for further observation. Your throat
may be a little sore for a couple of hours and you may feel bloated for
a short time because of the air that was introduced to examine your stomach.
You will be able to resume your normal diet after the ERCP unless otherwise
instructed. You will be given appropriate discharge instructions
and learning material before you go home. You should make arrangements
in advance to have someone stay at your home with you for the day.
Are there any complications from ERCP?
ERCP is usually well tolerated when performed by physicians who have
been specially trained in this specialized procedure. Major complications
requiring hospitalization can occur but are rare. Possible complications
include pancreatitis, infection, bowel perforation and bleeding.
These complications occur in less than 1% of patients who undergo diagnostic
ERCP. Localized irritation of the vein may occur at the site of medication
injection. A tender lump develops which may remain several weeks
to months but goes away eventually. Other risks include drug reactions,
reaction to the dye and complications from unrelated diseases such as heart
attack or stroke.
When will I know what my test showed?
Dr. Hasan will talk to you or the person accompanying your before you
leave the endoscopy department and preliminary results can usually
be given to you at that time. If a biopsy was taken, the results
will not be received from the laboratory for 3 to 4 days.