Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP)

An ERCP is a procedure that uses a flexible lighted scope that is inserted through the mouth and is gently passed down the throat into the esophagus, stomach and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum) until it reaches the ampulla (the place where the common bile duct and pancreatic duct meet the small bowel). ERCP is used to evaluate symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain and jaundice. During the ERCP, your physician will place a cannula and inject contrast (dye) into the pancreatic duct, the bile duct, or both. Using X-ray imaging, diseases of the liver, bile duct, or pancreas can be revealed. The procedure can be used to treat some diseases by removing stones from the ducts using instruments inserted through the scope, taking tissue samples, or opening a narrowed duct by inserting a plastic or metal tube (stent) through the scope into the duct. The risks and benefits and possibility of complications will be discussed with you by your doctor prior to your procedure.

For your ERCP, the stomach should be completely empty. You should have nothing to eat or drink for at least 8 hours prior to your procedure. This includes water, gum, and/or mints. Your physician will instruct you regarding the time to begin fasting depending on the time of your procedure. You may brush your teeth, but do not swallow the water.

You will be sedated during the procedure so you must make arrangements to have someone drive you home. Sedation can affect your judgment and reflexes for the entire day. You will not be able to drive, drink alcohol, or operate machinery until the next day.

Prior to the procedure, you will have an intravenous inserted. Your nurse will obtain a full medical history from you including medical conditions, medications you take, and family history. You will be brought to the procedure room on a stretcher and positioned on an X-ray table on your abdomen. A heart monitor, blood pressure cuff and pulse oximetry monitor will be placed. You will also receive oxygen through a small tube under your nose. A small plastic bite guard will be gently placed between your teeth to protect the scope. Once you are positioned and monitored, sedation will be administered through your intravenous by our Anesthesiologist. You will drift off to sleep before your ERCP begins.

Once the procedure is complete you will awaken quickly and remain in the Post Anesthesia Care Suite until you are ready to go home, usually within 1-11/2 hours. Your throat may be a little sore, and you may fell slightly bloated right after the procedure because of the air/water in your stomach introduced during the exam. This should pass quickly. Your physician will explain the results to you after your procedure or at your follow up visit. If your physician takes specimens during the procedure (called biopsies), you will have no sensation or pain at the time. This tissue will be evaluated by the laboratory and you can expect to hear results from your physician within a week.

Following are instructions which will also be given to you by your doctor. Please review them and follow them as directed.

On the day of your procedure: Plan to arrive at the time designated by your physician.

  • Please tell your nurse and doctor if you are allergic to Iodine or Shellfish, because of the Iodine in the X-ray dye.
  • Please bring your insurance card, Photo ID, insurance co-pay and all forms completed.
  • DO NOT BRING ANY VALUABLES; THIS INCLUDES JEWELRY, MONEY, CREDIT CARDS, CELL PHONES, ETC. UNLESS NEEDED FOR CO-PAY. THERE ARE NO LOCKERS AVAILABLE.
  • Please do not apply lotion before the procedure.
  • Please come accompanied by another adult or plan for a ride home – you will not be able to drive for 24 hours following sedation.
  • Please bring a list of your medications you are currently taking with the dosage and times including vitamins and herbal supplements.
  • If you take blood thinners, aspirin, Motrin, anti-inflammatory medication, notify your physician prior to your procedure.
  • If you are taking Blood Pressure medication, heart medication or seizure medication – you make take that in the morning with a sip of water.
  • Diabetic patients – Consult your PCP regarding medication the day of the procedure – your blood sugar level will be taken the day of the procedure.
  • Parking is available in the parking garage.
  • If you have any medical questions, please contact your doctor.