ERCP is an endoscopy retrograde cholangiopancreatography. This diagnostic procedure enables your physician to view the ducts (drainage routes) of the gallbladder, pancreas and liver. The drainage channels from the liver are called bile ducts or biliary ducts.
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An empty stomach provides the safest and best results. You should let your doctor know what medications you take and about any allergies you have, particularly to iodine-containing drugs. Also, alert him or her to major health conditions including heart or lung disease.
You should always tell your healthcare provider about all medications and supplements you take. Also alert him or her to any allergies, especially to medicines that contain iodine.
Your physician may provide you with a light sedative and/or a local anesthetic for your throat. Some patients are also given antibiotics before the ERCP begins. Lying on your left side, your doctor will pass an endoscope through your mouth, esophagus, stomach and into the duodenum. The endoscope is thin lighted flexible tube that allows your physician to see the ducts of the gallbladder, pancreas and liver. Then he or she will pass a catheter (a narrow tube) through the endoscope and into the ducts to deliver contrast material (dye) into the ducts to provide a clear picture on the X-rays.
You will be observed until most of the effects of the medications (sedative and/or local anesthetic) have worn off. You may experience bloating or gas because of the air introduced into your system. You may also have a mild sore throat. Unless your healthcare provider states otherwise, you may resume a normal diet after the procedure.
If you received sedatives, you will not be allowed to drive, so please arrange for a competent driver to accompany you to this procedure.
Complications from ERCP are rare when performed by a skilled physician. As with any procedure, some patients may react to the sedatives. Unlikely – but possible – complications may include infection, pancreatitis (inflammation or infection of the pancreas), bowel perforation and bleeding. Contact us immediately if you develop a fever, have unexplained symptoms or unusual bleeding. Some patients, especially those with heart or lung disease, may experience complications from the sedative. Patients who undergo ERCP for stone removal are at a slightly greater risk for complications.