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.

What to Expect

Preparation for the Procedure
  1. I'm dizzy or have a headache, what should I do?

    Dizziness and headache could be signs of low blood sugar or lack of caffeine. Drinking a regular caffeinated beverage (not diet) or apple juice may alleviate these symptoms.

  2. Can I eat or drink prior to my procedure?

    No. You may not have anything to eat or drink after midnight.

  3. Can I chew gum or suck candy?

    No candy or gum is allowed 4 hours prior to your procedure.

Day of Procedure Questions
  1. What should I wear?

    Loose comfortable clothing is recommended. You can wear make up but we advise patients not to wear jewelry.

  2. Can I drive myself home after the procedure?

    No, since sedatives are used, another driver is needed. This driver MUST stay during the procedure or the procedure will not be performed. This is for your personal safety. You may bring more than one person with you, but only one person may be allowed with you in recovery due to space limitations.

  3. One of the medications I was instructed to take the morning of my procedure is red. Can I take it?

    Medication for blood pressure, heart conditions, and seizure should be taken the morning of your exam regardless of the color. Light blue and light pink medications are also fine for you to take. Tylenol may be taken for a headache even though the color may be red.

  4. Can I brush my teeth?

    Yes, please.

  5. Can I wear my dentures?

    Yes, you may wear your dentures to the Endoscopy suite. However, you will be asked to remove them prior to the procedure, so please do not “glue” them in. you will be given a denture cup to put your dentures in during the procedure. You do not have to bring one.

  6. Why do I have to be there 1 1/2 hours before the time procedure is scheduled? What if I am running late?

    ERCPs are performed at the hospital. We ask patients to arrive early in order to get you registered, complete a pre-procedure assessment and start the IV.

After the Procedure Questions
  1. I am still dizzy and lightheaded after my procedure, why?

    You may have residual anesthesia in your system, additional rest is recommended. This will improve over the next few hours.

  2. May I go back to work after my procedure?

    No, please take it easy the rest of the day, due to the sedatives you may not think clearly for several hours. DO NOT DRIVE. You can return to work the day after unless your physician specifically tells you otherwise.

  3. How do I get my results?

    Results are given by the doctor to you in the recovery room. You may or may not remember talking to the doctor so your results will also be in your discharge instructions. Pathology may take up to 2 weeks to get results. You will be given instructions how to get your pathology results from the LabCall website or toll free telephone number anytime day or night, or you can call the office. Your results will be available after the pathology lab has tested your biopsy/tissue sample and your physician has reviewed the results. It can take longer than expected if your physician is out of the office for an extended period.

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