ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)
Procedure (Digestive System)
is the test?
is a test used to evaluate the biliary and pancreatic ducts. These tiny
channels carry bile from the liver and pancreatic juice from the pancreas to
the common bile duct, which connects to the top part of the small intestine.
ERCP combines endoscopic and imaging technology to visualize these ducts. This
exam may be used to evaluate conditions such as acute or recurring inflammation
of the pancreas, unexplained abdominal pain, jaundice, bile duct disease, or to
visualize the area prior to therapeutic endoscopy to remove
a duct stone or place a stent.
How do I prepare?
You may consume only clear liquids after midnight on the night before a
morning procedure. At three hours prior to the exam time, you should consume
nothing more. (These instructions are for an early morning procedure and are
modified if your exam is scheduled for late morning or afternoon.) If you are
taking aspirin or blood thinners, talk with your doctor about the possible need
to discontinue them prior to your ERCP.
Since you will be under mild sedation during the exam, you must bring a
friend or family member with you to review the test results and discharge
instructions, and to drive you home after the exam. If you are relying on taxi
or bus service for transportation, you must have a companion accompany you. Sedation
can also make people forgetful, so plan the rest of your day accordingly.
What can I expect during the procedure?
Plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to your procedure. Once you arrive in the
Endoscopy Department, a nurse will take your health history and blood pressure,
and the doctor will answer any questions you have about the procedure. You will
receive an intravenous sedative to make you drowsy.
The gastroenterologist will then introduce the endoscope through your mouth
and advance it slowly into the esophagus, through the stomach, and into the
small intestine where the bile and pancreatic ducts enter. Through a small
hollow tube passed through the endoscope the physician will inject contrast
medium into the duct being examined. X-rays are then taken to identify stones,
narrowings, or abnormalities. If a stone is present in the duct, the
gastroenterologist can remove it at this time. Similarly, if a narrowing is
identified, a stent can be placed to open it up. ERCP takes about 2 hours and
you should plan to spend 4 to 6 hours at the medical center. Occasionally,
patients stay over night following this procedure.
How and when will I get my test results?
After your exam, you will be moved to the recovery area of the Endoscopy
Department until you are fully awake and meet certain discharge criteria. Your
physician will discuss the results with you and your companion and send a
report to your primary care provider. Your companion should drive you home, as
it will be unsafe for you to operate a car or perform tasks that require
alertness and coordination for the remainder of the day. Within 2 to 4 hours,
you may eat a light meal. The day after the procedure, you may resume a full
is the test performed?
ERCP is performed at Cayuga Medical Center
at 101 Dates Drive, off NYS Route 96 in Ithaca.