What is ERCP Test?

What is ERCP Test? Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that combines the use of gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and x-rays (fluoroscopy) to diagnose and treat problems of the liver, gallbladder, bile, and pancreatic ducts.

ERCP allows your doctor to see the pancreatic and bile ducts. The pancreatic and bile ducts carry digestive juices from your liver and pancreas to the intestines.

Doctors perform ERCP when your bile or pancreatic ducts have become narrowed or blocked as a result of;

  • Gallstones that form in your gallbladder and become stuck in your bile duct
  • Infection
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Trauma in your bile or pancreatic ducts
  • Surgical complications in your bile or pancreatic ducts
  • Pancreatic pseudocysts
  • Tumors or cancers of the bile ducts
  • Tumors or cancers of the pancreas 

How is ERCP procedure done?

You will be given sedatives or a local anesthetic to make you feel more relaxed and comfortable throughout the procedure. Sedatives may be given through an intravenous (IV) line.

You’ll be asked to lie on an examination table and your doctor will then carefully pass an endoscope through your mouth down your esophagus into your stomach, and into your duodenum. A small camera is attached to the tip of the endoscope. The camera sends video image of the inside of your stomach and duodenum to a monitor.

Your doctor pumps air through the endoscope inside your stomach and duodenum to make them expand and more clearer to see. Your doctor is able to view the inside of your stomach and duodenum on the monitor.

Your doctor locates the opening where the bile and pancreatic ducts empty into the duodenum.

Your doctor then slides a thinner, flexible tube called a catheter through the endoscope into the ducts. A contrast dye is then injected into the ducts through the catheter to make the ducts more visible and clearer on x-rays

Your doctor will then use a type of x-ray imaging, called fluoroscopy, to examine the ducts and look for the areas that are narrowed or blocked

Your doctor may then pass tiny tools through the endoscope to open the blocked or narrowed ducts, break up or remove stones, perform a biopsy or remove tumors in the ducts.

What is ERCP used for?

ERCP is a procedure used to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas. If a problem is found during the test, it can often be treated. For example, if a gallstone is found during the test, it can be removed.

Is ERCP painful?

You will be sedated and given a local anesthetic before the procedure so that you don’t feel pain and to make you more comfortable throughout the procedure. However, some patients do experience pain following the procedure due to the large volume of air that was injected into their stomach and duodenum during the procedure. This large volume of air results in bowel distention and painful spasm.

Can ERCP remove gallstones?

Yes, gallstones can be removed from the bile ducts during ERCP. However, the gallbladder isn’t removed during ERCP; hence any stones in the gallbladder will remain. They can only be removed using other surgical techniques.

Are you awake during ERCP?

During ERCP, you will be given sedatives and local anesthetic to make you feel comfortable and not feel pain. You are not asleep during the procedure. However, in some cases, patients may be given general anesthetic to put them completely asleep throughout the procedure.

Does ERCP require anesthesia?

Yes, during ERCP, patients are usually given local or general anesthesia to make them feel more comfortable or asleep throughout the procedure.

How long does ERCP last?

What is ERCP Test?; ERCP can last for as short as 30 minutes or as long as 2 hours depending on if gallstones were found or not. It will take a longer time if gallstones were found because your doctor will also remove the gallstones.

What are the side effects of ERCP?

The side effects that may occur after undergoing ERCP include:

  • Infection of the bile ducts or gallbladder
  • Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas)
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Adverse reaction to the sedative used
  • Tissue damage from exposure to x-ray
  • Cardiac problems
  • Perforation in the bile or pancreatic ducts
  • Perforation in the duodenum
  • Bloody or black stool
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Problems breathing
  • Problems swallowing
  • Throat pain
  • Vomiting
  • Very rare cases of death

Is ERCP safe?

An ERCP is considered a low-risk procedure. However, there are certain side effects or complications that may occur. If you experience continuous side effects or complications immediately inform your doctor.

What is ERCP Test?

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