ERCP

ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)

ERCP is a specialized technique used to view the ducts (drainage routes) of the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas (the drainage channels from the liver are called bile ducts or biliary ducts).

An endoscope (flexible thin tube) is passed through the mouth, esophagus and stomach into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). After the common opening to ducts from the liver and pancreas is identified, a catheter (narrow plastic tube) is passed through the endoscope into the ducts. Contrast material (dye) is then injected into the ducts (pancreatic or biliary) and X-rays are taken.

When is ERCP used?

ERCP is used when it is suspected a person’s bile or pancreatic ducts may be narrowed or blocked due to:

  • tumors
  • gallstones that form in the gallbladder and become stuck in the duct
  • inflammation due to trauma or illness, such as pancreatitis—inflammation of the pancreas
  • infection
  • valves in the ducts, called sphincters, that won’t open properly
  • scarring of the ducts, called sclerosis
  • pseudocysts—accumulations of fluid and tissue debris

What are the possible complications of ERCP?

ERCP is a well-tolerated procedure when performed by doctors who are specially trained and experienced in the technique. Although complications requiring hospitalization can occur, they are uncommon. Complications can include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), infections, bowel perforation and bleeding. Some patients can have an adverse reaction to the sedative used. Sometimes the procedure cannot be completed for technical reasons.

Risks vary, depending on why the test is performed, what is found during the procedure, what therapeutic intervention is undertaken, and whether a patient has major medical problems. Patients undergoing therapeutic ERCP, such as for stone removal, face a higher risk of complications than patients undergoing diagnostic ERCP. Your doctor will discuss your likelihood of complications before you undergo the test.

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1535 Gull Road, Suite 105
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
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Battle Creek, MI 49015
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Kalamazoo, MI 49009
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