What is an ERCP?
ERCP is a procedure that is used for diagnosis and treatment of many diseases of the pancreas, bile ducts, liver, and gallbladder. Conditions such as gallstones, tumors, or strictures of the biliary or pancreatic ducts can be shown during an ERCP and biopsies of abnormal tissue can be taken in some cases. Several conditions of the biliary or pancreatic ducts can be treated by techniques that can open the end of the bile duct, remove stones, and place stents (plastic or metals drainage tubes) across obstructed ducts to improve their drainage.
What should I expect during an ERCP?
Expect to spend 2 - 3 hours at the hospital the day of your ERCP. The procedure itself takes approximately 30 to 90 minutes to complete. Before the procedure a nurse will insert an intravenous (IV) line into your hand or arm. During the procedure, an anesthesiologist or CRNA will provide medications to ensure that you are sedated and comfortable. The physician will insert a flexible, lighted duodenoscope into your mouth and will advance it to the duodenum (the first part of your small intestine). After the opening to the ducts is visually identified, a catheter (narrow plastic tube) is passed through the endoscope into the desired duct(s). Contrast material ("dye") is then injected into the ducts (pancreatic or biliary) and x-rays are taken.
What should I expect after an ERCP?
The physician will discuss the results of the procedure with you, as well as a family member if you choose. You will also be given a written report and post procedure instructions. Some patients experience mild bloating, cramping, and/or a sore throat after the procedure. These symptoms are typically mild and resolve with time. Any tissue samples/biopsies or polyps removed during the procedure will be sent to a lab for evaluation. You will be contacted by phone or mail with the results in 1 – 2 weeks.
You may resume most of your regular activities the day after the procedure. Due to the medications given during the procedure DO NOT drive on the day of your procedure. You may resume your normal diet, but alcohol should be avoided until the next day after your procedure.