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(Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography)

What is ERCP?
A procedure to let the doctor look at the ducts (drainage routes) of the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver.  An endoscope (long, flexible tube) and X-rays are used.   The doctors that perform this procedure have special training.

Why have ERCP done?
To find the reason you have jaundice (yellow coloring of your eyes and skin), upper abdominal pain, weight loss or stones in your bile duct. 

How do I get ready for an ERCP?
Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the test so it is safe to do and the doctor can see clearly.  You will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure.

Be sure to let your doctor know if you are ALLERGIC to any drugs or iodine dyes.

Let your doctor know if you have had any barium X-rays in the past week.

You must arrange to have someone take you home.

What happens during an ERCP?
The nurse will give you special medicine to gargle with or will spray the back of your throat so you won’t gag during the test. You will be asked to lie on your left side almost on your belly. Anesthesia staff will give you medicine will in your IV to make you sleepy so you won’t hurt or remember the procedure.  The doctor will insert the tube and slowly guide it to your small intestine.

What happens after and ERCP?
Since air was put in your stomach, you may burp for a while or feel bloated.  Because of the medicine you were given, you won’t remember the doctor talking to you after the procedure.   This is normal and everything will be written down for you. You may have a mild sore throat for a day or two. Even if you are still a little sleepy, you will be able to go home.  The best thing is to go home and take a nap.  If you are hungry, you can eat a light meal. 

Are there complications?
Possible complications are pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), infection, bleeding, and perforation of the duodenum (the beginning of the small intestine).