What is an ERCP?
ERCP is an endoscopic procedure that uses x-rays to visualize the bile ducts and pancreas. A long flexible tube, approximately the size of your little finger, is passed through the mouth and into the upper digestive tract to the first portion of the small bowel (duodenum). A small plastic tube (cannula) is passed through the endoscope into the opening of the bile duct and / or pancreatic duct. Contrast material (dye) is then injected and x-rays are taken to study the ducts. Instruments may be passed through the scope and used for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
Why is an ERCP necessary?
ERCP is a valuable tool for the diagnosis of many diseases of the pancreas, bile ducts, liver and gallbladder. An abnormality suspected by clinical history, blood tests or x-ray can be confirmed and studied in detail. The cause of an obstruction to the flow of bile may be found in a patient who is jaundiced.
The procedure also has therapeutic applications including the removal of gallstones from the bile duct and stent placement to relieve obstruction of the bile duct.
In patients with suspected or known pancreatic disease, ERCP will help to determine the need for surgery and the best type of surgical procedure to be performed.
ERCP is generally safe and well tolerated. The decision to perform this procedure was based upon assessment of your particular problem. If you have any questions about your need for ERCP, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor.