Treat and diagnose gallstones, tumors, or scarring.
ERCP can be useful in treating and diagnosing problems associated with the GI tract. The GI tract includes the stomach, lower intestine and other parts of the body linked to the intestine, such as the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. Your physician will pass a thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light on the end, known as an endoscope, down your throat, into the esophagus, through the stomach and into the duodenum. The duodenum is a part of the small intestine. This procedure may be helpful when there is a blockage of the bile ducts by gallstones, tumors or scarring. Bile, a substance produced by the liver, is important in the digestion and absorption of fats. Bile is carried from the liver through a system of tubes, known as bile ducts.
Depending on the individual, ERCP can be done as an outpatient procedure or may require hospitalization. During the procedure, you may feel drowsy from the sedative, but will remain awake and able to cooperate. Patients should not feel any pain, but may feel a sense of fullness because air might be introduced to help advance the scope. You should not eat or drink anything for at least six hours, prior to the ERCP or after midnight if the procedure is scheduled first thing in the morning. Patients should inform the doctor of all current medications, including aspirins, aspirin containing drugs or blood thinners. Be sure to tell your physician about any allergic reactions to drugs, especially antibiotics or pain medications.
ERCP does have a five to ten percent risk of complications, such as inflammation of the pancreas. Following the procedure, you may feel drowsy. Patients experiencing bleeding from the rectum, severe abdominal pain, dizziness or any other problems should consult the doctor.