Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
What is Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography?
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure which is performed to diagnose problems in the gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas. Your liver secretes a fluid called bile that helps with digestion. The gallbladder helps in storage of bile until it is required for digestion. The bile duct carries bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. These ducts make up the biliary tree. The pancreas is a gland that produces enzymes which helps in digestion and also secretes hormones such as insulin.
Why is it done?
ERCP is performed to:
- Diagnose and treat conditions related to pancreas or bile ducts (e.g. stone)
- It is used to evaluate any symptoms (e.g.abdominal pain or jaundice) or further clarify the abnormal results from a blood test, ultrasound or CT scan.
- Before or after gallbladder surgery.
- Tumors can be diagnosed and indwelling plastic tubes called stents are used to bypass a blockage of the bile duct.
- ERCP also helps to detect and treat problems following gallbladder surgery.
What happens during the procedure?
ERCP is a technique that combines the use of X-rays and an endoscope. A special long, flexible, lighted tube is used. The endoscope enables your doctor to view the inside of the stomach and duodenum, and inject dyes into the ducts in the biliary tree and pancreas so they can be seen on X-rays.
During the procedure, you will be lying on a table. You will be given local anaesthesia and a sedative to relax. Your doctor will guide the endoscope through your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum till the spot where the bile duct opens into the duodenum. Dye is injected and X-ray equipment is used to take pictures. This will give a better view about narrowing, or blockage of the ducts. If required, your doctor can take a biopsy for further evaluation, or even remove gallbladder stone or blockage. Once procedure is done, endoscope will be removed.
How long will it take?
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography will take approximately an hour, depending upon the condition for which the procedure is done.
What happens after the procedure?
You may feel slight discomfort in the throat and need someone to accompany you home. Your doctor will schedule your follow-up. It is recommended to take rest after the procedure.
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How do I prepare for an ERCP procedure?
- Fasting is required. You should not eat or drink after midnight.
- Let your doctor know if you are taking any medications.
- Be accompanied by someone, as you cannot drive back home.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions
What if doctor finds any abnormality during ERCP?
During ERCP if doctor finds any abnormality like a gallstone or narrowing of the ducts, instruments will be inserted into the scope to remove or relieve the obstruction. If your doctor feels that further evaluation is required, sample will be taken for biopsy. Biopsies are used to identify many conditions like cancer.
UPDATED ON 15/11/2023