Gastroenterology Services

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiogram Pancreatography (ERCP)


ERCP is a procedure that combines the use of an endoscope and X-ray pictures, allowing your doctor to examine your pancreatic, liver and gallbladder bile ducts to identify stones, tumors or narrowing of the ducts. Your doctor may want to perform this test if you are experiencing abdominal pain, jaundice or weight loss.

Preparing for the procedure

You will need to fast for at least eight hours before the procedure. Inform your doctor of any allergies to iodine or reactions to any other dyes used for x-rays. You will be asked to empty your bladder and remove any dentures or jewelry before the test.

During the procedure

This test is performed in the hospital and takes about 30 minutes to an hour. You will be in recovery for one to two hours and can leave afterwards, unless your doctor requires an overnight stay. Pain medication and a sedative will be administered through an intravenous (IV) line before the procedure begins. A spray may be used to numb the back of your throat.

You will lie on your stomach while the endoscope is inserted into your mouth and passed through your esophagus (food pipe) down to your stomach, eventually reaching your duodenum (part of the small intestine). You may be asked to swallow to help the endoscope move down. A thin catheter is passed through the endoscope into the ducts that lead to the gallbladder and pancreas to inject dye. This will help your doctor see any stones or tumors that may be present in the ducts. Several X-rays will be taken.

You need to arrange to have someone drive you home since drowsiness is a side effect of the pain and sedative medication. It is normal to experience slight discomfort or bloating afterwards. You should avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for 48 hours after the procedure.