Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that combines upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and X-Rays to diagnose and treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. For diagnosis alone, doctors may use noninvasive tests—tests that do not physically enter the body—instead of ERCP. Noninvasive tests such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)—a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — are safer and can also diagnose many problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts.
Doctors may perform ERCP when your bile or pancreatic ducts are narrowed or blocked due to conditions such as:
- Gallstones that form in your gallbladder and become stuck in your common bile duct
- Acute pancreatitis
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Trauma or surgical complications in your bile or pancreatic ducts
- Pancreatic pseudocysts, tumor, or cancer
- Tumor or cancer of the bile duct
You will be asked to:
- In some cases, stay at the hospital from the night before and temporarily stop taking medicines that affect blood clotting or interact with sedatives
- Stay at the hospital or outpatient center for at least 2 hours after the procedure so the sedation or anesthesia can wear off. In some cases, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital after ERCP.
- It is best not to eat, drink, or chew gum during the 8 hours before ERCP.
After ERCP, you can expect the following:
- You may have bloating or nausea for a short time after the procedure.
- You may have a sore throat for 1 to 2 days.
- You should rest at home for the remainder of the day.
- You can go back to a normal diet once your swallowing has returned to normal.
- For safety reasons, it is best not to drive for 24 hours after ERCP as the sedatives or anesthesia needs time to wear off. You need to make plans for getting a ride home after ERCP.
Some results from ERCP are available right away after the procedure. After the sedative has worn off, the doctor will share results with you or, if you choose, with your friend or family member. If the doctor performed a biopsy, a pathologist will examine the biopsy tissue. Biopsy results take a few days or longer to come back.