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Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure to examine the ducts of your pancreas or gallbladder. ERCP may also be used to open blocked ducts, or to diagnose problems with your pancreas or gallbladder. An endoscope (thin, flexible tube with a light) will be used for the procedure.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


ERCP may increase your risk for an abdominal infection or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). The scope or tools may injure your esophagus, stomach, or intestines. You may also have problems with your lungs or trouble breathing. These problems may become life-threatening.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

During your procedure:

  • You will be given medicine to help you relax, make you drowsy, and prevent coughing or gagging. Your healthcare provider will insert the endoscope through your mouth and down into your stomach and upper intestine. He will watch the monitor as he moves the scope.
  • He will then insert a catheter through the scope and into an opening that leads to your pancreas and gallbladder. He will inject contrast dye and take x-rays to see the ducts better. He may insert a tool to remove a blockage or to place a stent to open a plugged duct. He may also take a sample of tissue and send it to a lab to be tested.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will then be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room. Your throat may be sore for several days after your ERCP.

Learn more about Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.