Procedures / ERCP


It is a diagnostic as well as a therapeutic procedure done to manage the problems in the bile ducts like bile stones, obstructed bile ducts, cancer of the pancreatic duct, leaks (trauma and surgery) and inflammatory stenosis (scars). This technique combines the use of an endoscope and X-rays to diagnose and treat a specific problem.

Why is ERCP performed?

This procedure is done to:

  • Find obstructed bile ducts, gallstones, diseases of the liver or pancreas.
  • Measure the intra-biliary duct pressure (manometry)
  • Check the cause of jaundice and lasting belly pain
  • Remove biliary gallstones
  • Insert a drain or open a narrowed bile duct
  • Getting biopsy (a tissue sample for further testing)

How to prepare

To prepare for ERCP, you will be advised not to eat or drink anything 6 to 8 hours before the procedure. You can take a small amount of fluid to swallow any essential medications. You should inform your doctor about previous medical or surgical history, drug allergies or other general health problems like bleeding problems, diabetes, or diseases of the heart, lung, or kidney.

What can you expect?

Normal: A positive result indicates no underlying pathology. The bile ducts are normal size and structure. Contrast material shows patent ducts that drain the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
Abnormal: A negative test indicates some underlying pathology. The biliary ducts or that of other organs are blocked or narrowed. A blockage could be due to gallstones, inflammation, scar tissue, or cancer. Cancer of the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, oesophagus, or duodenum is found.

Possible side effects

Pancreatitis is the most common complication of ERCP. This infection of the pancreas is due to irritation from the dye used in the procedure. Other side effects include bleeding, perforation of the intestine, depressed breathing and drug reactions.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other healthcare professional. ALWAYS check with your doctor if you have any concerns about your condition or treatment.

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