Endoscopic Retrograde Colangiopancreaticography (ERCP)

Indications and Procedures

  • Indication: Doctors perform ERCP when the bile or pancreatic ducts have become narrowed or blocked because of
    • Gallstones in the gallbladder
    • Infection
    • Acute pancreatitis
    • Chronic pancreatitis
    • Trauma or surgical complications in your bile or pancreatic ducts
    • Pancreatic cysts
    • Tumors or cancers of the pancreas
    • Tumors of the bile ducts
  • Procedures: Sedatives help you stay relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. A liquid anesthetic is sprayed on the back of the throat. This prevents gagging.
  • Patient is asked to lie on the examination table. The endoscope is passed into the esophagus, stomach, and into the duodenum. A small camera mounted on the endoscope sends video images to a monitor. The endoscope pumps air into your stomach and duodenum, making them easier to see.

    During ERCP, the doctor

    • Locates the opening where the bile and pancreatic ducts empty into the duodenum
    • Slides a thin, flexible tube called a catheter through the endoscope and into the ducts
    • Injects a special dye, also called contrast medium, into the ducts through the catheter to make the ducts more visible on x-rays
    • Uses a type of x-ray imaging, called fluoroscopy, to examine the ducts and look for narrowed areas or blockages
    • The doctor may pass tiny tools through the endoscope to

    • Open blocked or narrowed ducts.
    • Break up or remove stones.
    • Perform a biopsy or remove tumors in the ducts.
    • Insert stents
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