Understanding Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography or ERCP
Baptist Health Paducah offers patient information on what to expect during an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography or ERCP.
The Purpose of ERCP
After careful medical examination, your doctor may recommend that an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography or ERCP be performed. An ERCP can be a valuable examination for the diagnosis of many diseases of the pancreas, bile ducts, liver and gallbladder.
An ERCP allows the doctor to perform necessary treatments such as enlarging a bile duct, inserting a stent or drain into the duct or taking a tiny piece of tissue for microscopic examination. The procedure takes about an hour.
About the Procedure
During an ERCP, a flexible scope is passed through the mouth, esophagus and stomach into the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. The doctor finds the opening where the bile and pancreatic ducts empty into the small intestine and passes a small plastic tube in the opening through the scope. X-ray dye is then injected through the tube into the duct and the doctor is able to determine if treatment is necessary.
Prior to the procedure, dentures, eyeglasses and contacts must be removed. You will be asked to sign a consent form that authorizes the doctor to perform the procedure. Be sure to tell the doctor and the nurse if you are allergic to any medicines, x-ray dyes or iodine products. You may receive one or two injections about one hour prior to the procedure. An IV will also be started in your arm so the doctor may administer medicine to make you sleepy. The doctor may also spray your throat or ask you to gargle with numbing medicine.
You will be asked to lie on your left side on an x-ray table and a small plastic mouthpiece will be placed between your teeth. The doctor will help you to swallow the flexible scope. When the scope is in the duodenum, you will be assisted in turning onto your abdomen, keeping your head turned to the right. You may experience some abdominal fullness or mild discomfort as the doctor injects air or x-ray dye through the tube, but it should not be painful.
After Your ERCP
After the scope is removed, you may be asked to move into a different position so more x-rays can be taken. Most people do not remember the procedure due to the medication. You will probably remain drowsy and may even sleep for a short time after the procedure.
The doctor will discuss his or her findings with you and your family members. You will be given written instructions for home care upon discharge.
Because you will receive sedation, it is very important that you arrange to have someone who can drive you home accompany you the day of the procedure. You must have a ride home or the procedure will not be done. Wait at least 24 hours after you have returned home to drive or operate any equipment, drink any alcoholic beverages, take any sleeping pills or sign any important documents. It is also advisable that you go home and nap following the procedure. You may want to eat when you get home.