What is ERCP?

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatopgraphy, or ERCP, is a specialized technique used to study the bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder.  Ducts are drainage routes; the drainage channels from the liver are called bile or biliary ducts.  The pancreatic duct is the drainage channel from the pancreas.

What happens during an ERCP?

You will be given a sedative by the anesthesiologist and you will lie on an xray table.  During the ERCP, our physician will pass an endoscope through your mouth, esophagus and stomach in the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).  An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube that lets our physicians see inside your bowels.  Upon locating the common opening to the ducts from the liver and pancreas, called the major duidenal papilla, a catheter (narrow plastic tube) will be passed through the scope and into the ducts.  A contract material (dye) will be injected into the pancreatic or biliary ducts and xrays will be taken.

What happens after an ERCP?

You will be monitored until most of the effects from the sedative have worn off before being sent home.  You might experience bloating or pass gas because of the air introduced during the examination.  You can resume your usual diet unless you are instructed otherwise.  Someone must accompany you home from the procedure because of the sedatives used during the examination.  Even if you feel alert after the procedure, the sedatives can affect your judgement and reflexes for the rest of the day.