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ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)


What is an ERCP?

An ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) 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.

Abdominal Organs

How do I prepare for the procedure?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your ERCP. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. You may need to stop taking aspirin or blood thinners before the procedure. Your healthcare provider will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your ERCP. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. You will need to find someone to drive you home after your procedure.

What will happen during the procedure?

  • You will be given medicines 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 liquid 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.

What are the risks of ERCP?

You may develop an infection from the scope or tools used during the procedure. The infection may be resistant to medicines used for treatment. The scope or tools may injure your esophagus, stomach, or intestines. ERCP may increase your risk for an abdominal infection or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). You may also have problems with your lungs or trouble breathing. These problems may become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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