Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP)

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP)

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ERCP is a specialized technique that is used to diagnose problems of the pancreas, gall bladder, bile ducts and liver. Unlike a traditional x-ray, MRI, ultrasound, CT exams and other external diagnostic procedures, ERCP lets your doctor take an x-ray from inside of your digestive tract directly, allowing for a more comprehensive visual assessment of your digestive tract and organs.

Like other endoscopic techniques, ERCP uses a long, flexible, lighted tube that is inserted into the mouth and gently guided down the throat. The tip of the tube transmits pictures back to a screen to assist the doctor in evaluating the condition of the various digestive organs and determine exactly what needs to be further examined.

The ERCP tube has an open channel through which a cannula and other instruments can be inserted. For a normal ERCP, the cannula will be used to inject a contrast agent or dye into a site and an x-ray taken. The doctor can also use the cannula to insert therapeutic devices for the removal of tissue for biopsy or insert stents to relieve obstructions in the bile or pancreatic ducts.

Dr. Saad Haque of Calvert Gastroenterology is specially trained to perform ERCP and your procedure will be performed in the Calvert Endoscopy Center for your convenience.

Preparing for Your Procedure

With any endoscopic procedure, having a clear field of vision is important to a successful outcome. That means having nothing in your upper digestive tract, from your stomach down to your small intestine. You will have to stop eating and drinking the night before your procedure. Some procedures may require the use of a laxative to empty the bowels as well.

If you are taking over-the-counter or prescription medications, you may need to stop them or delay them for some period of time prior to your procedure. Dr. Haque will review your medication lists and walk you through the preparation requirements in advance of your procedure.

Because you will be placed under sedation for the procedure, you will remain under observation for at least an hour after the procedure, and you will not be allowed to drive yourself home. The procedure itself only takes 20 minutes or so, and the doctor will review the immediate results with you as soon as you wake up. Once home, you will be groggy but will be able to eat that day and resume normal activities the next day.