(Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)
Procedure (Digestive System)
is the test?
ERCP 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
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
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 diet.
Where is the test performed?
ERCP is performed at Cayuga Medical Center
at 101 Dates Drive, off NYS Route 96 in Ithaca.