ERCP is a specialized endoscopic technique to evaluate the bile ducts, pancreas ducts and gallbladder. Ducts are drainage routes for various organs; the drainage channels from the liver are called bile or biliary ducts while the pancreatic duct is the drainage channel from the pancreas. Different diseases such as stones, pancreatitis, cancer, surgical injuries, can cause blockages or leaks of these ducts. ERCP is the gold standard to access these ducts to remove stones, open up blockages and even diagnosis cancers.
An ERCP is a procedure that is done to allow your physician the ability to examine the bile and pancreatic ducts. A flexible, lighted tube known as an endoscope is inserted into the mouth and down the throat. This goes down into the stomach and upper part of the small intestine (duodenum). In this area, an opening (ampulla) to the bile and pancreas ducts is found. At that time, the opening can be accessed with various tools, wires, and dye to study and treat the ducts of the liver and pancreas. ERCP is the gold standard first line option for therapy of these organ systems.
ERCP is a well-tolerated procedure when performed by doctors who are specially trained and experienced in the technique. Although complications (such as inflammation of the pancreas or bleeding) requiring hospitalization can occur, they are uncommon. Dr. Kedia’s rates of complications from ERCP are fewer than the nationally recognized benchmarks.
An ERCP is typically performed to diagnose and treat specific conditions of the bile ducts, pancreas or possibly gallbladder. The most common reasons for an ERCP include yellowing of the skin, abdominal pain, or ultrasounds that show a mass or stones in the bile or pancreas ducts.
ECRP can also be used to diagnose and then remove bile duct stones. Benign and cancerous tumors are also diagnosed and treated using this procedure. Sometimes an ECRP may be used for complications from gallbladder surgery, as well.
For patients who have pancreatic disease, the ERCP can help determine whether surgery is needed and if so, what type of surgery it should be. Also, sometimes pancreatic stones are removed using ERCP.
For an ERCP, you will need to have an empty stomach, which means you should not eat or drink for a minimum of eight hours before the test is done. Your doctor may give you a more specific time frame for beginning fasting, depending on when the test is scheduled.
There may also be adjustments made to your current medications, such as blood thinners and insulin. It is a great idea to discuss this with your physician as soon as possible. You should also let them know about any allergies and if you will require any antibiotics before the procedure.
An anesthesiologist will give you IV sedative to make you completely asleep for the procedure when it happens. When you are asleep, an endoscope will be passed through your mouth into the intestines. This will not interfere with your ability to breathe. From inside the intestines, the endoscopists evaluates the bile and pancreas ducts with a combination of tools and dye. The procedure typically takes less than one hour to complete.
After the procedure, you will be monitored in the recovery area while you wake up from anesthesia. This will give you time for the sedative to wear off. You may find your throat is sore for a couple of days. You will be able to use medication and eat as usual once the procedure is complete.
Are you interested in learning more about ERCP or medical conditions requiring its use? We invite you to contact us to learn more. Dr. Prashant Kedia is a therapeutic endoscopist and gastroenterologist serving patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Call today to schedule an appointment at (214) 941-6891.