Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a test to investigate and also treat the gall bladder and bile or pancreatic ducts. It uses both endoscopy and fluoroscopy.

Performed under local anesthesia, an endoscope tube with a camera is placed through your mouth and into the stomach and the small intestine. The doctor gets the internal view through video transmission on to a computer screen. A catheter is inserted with a dye through the endoscope that makes the ducts visible on X-rays, which are then examined for blockage areas.

When is ERCP done?

ERCP is suggested if a person’s bile or pancreatic ducts are suspected to be blocked or narrowed. This may be due to the below conditions which can be diagnosed through ERCP test.

  • Tumors
  • Sclerosis (scarring of the ducts)
  • Pseudocysts (accumulations of fluid and tissue)
  • Gallstones in the gallbladder that stuck in the ducts
  • Inflammation due to disease like pancreatitis
  • Infection
  • Valves in the ducts that do not open

Treatment through Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

Narrowed areas or blockages can be treated during ERCP. The doctor uses x-ray video (fluoroscopy) to see the ducts while doing the treatment.

Through the endoscope, the surgeon uses specialized tools to remove tumors, open the blocked ducts, remove gallstones, or insert stents in narrowed ducts to return the bile or pancreatic juice flow. The doctor also collects cells from the ducts for biopsy to examine for any cancer or infection.

Recovery after ERCP

It takes about an hour for the sedatives to wear off. You may feel bloated or nauseous. Feeling of tiredness remains for the day. Generally, one can get back to normal diet after the procedure but get specific instructions from the doctor about your diet after ERCP.

Risks related to ERCP

  • Infection
  • Excess bleeding
  • Tissue damage
  • Puncture of the ducts
  • Allergic reaction to sedatives

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