Get the facts about ERCP procedure at Advanced Gastro Center for Patients in New Jersey
Overview of ERCP
An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that allows your gastroenterologist to investigate the bile and pancreatic ducts. Using an endoscope, the gastroenterologist injects contrast dye into your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and takes x-rays of these ducts. This permits detailed evaluation for inflammation, blockages, and other potential issues.
Indications of ERCP
An ERCP is usually performed to evaluate, and sometimes treat, problems with the pancreas or bile ducts. These problems are usually first suspected from laboratory blood tests, imaging results, or symptoms like abdominal pain and jaundice. An ERCP may also be employed in conjunction with gallbladder surgery, bile duct stones, and tumor evaluation and removal.
An ERCP is usually a same-day procedure, meaning you’ll be able to go home at the conclusion. You also will likely not need hospital admission.
Preparation: Gastroenterological doctors at New Jersey Advanced Gastro Center will provide specifics, but you will typically need to fast for eight hours prior to your ERCP. This is so your stomach will be empty for the procedure. You also may need to stop or start certain medicines before your ERCP, so be confident that your gastroenterologist has your updated medication list and complete medical history.
Anesthesia: You will be sedated during the ERCP for your comfort. While you will likely not receive general anesthesia, you may still feel disoriented for hours after the procedure. As such, you’ll need an adult to drive you home afterwards. An anesthetic spray may be applied to your throat as well.
ERCP: Once you are sedated, an endoscope is inserted through your mouth, passed through the stomach and into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Once in the duodenum, your gastroenterologist looks for a tiny opening called the ampulla. They then pass a tube called a cannula into the ampulla. Contrast dye is injected and images of the hepatic and pancreatic ducts are taken. The color provides a clear outline of your biliary structures on x-ray. If any interventions, like stone removal, are needed they will be performed during this time. These may also include biliary stenting, where a small drainage tube is inserted into your biliary system. The ERCP procedure itself usually takes less than an hour.
Recovery from ERCP
You’ll be moved to a recovery area after the procedure is concluded. You will typically spend a couple of hours in recovery while awakening from anesthesia and being monitored by nursing staff. Once it’s been confirmed that you’re doing fine, you’ll be able to have a friend or family member take you home.
Your gastroenterologist’s office will give you comprehensive postprocedure instructions. These will cover everything from which medications to take to what you can eat. It’s important that you follow these instructions closely. Recovery from an ERCP is usually brief and you are likely to be back to your full activities soon.
The results of your ERCP will be available shortly from your gastroenterologist. You should be sure to keep any followup appointments with all your healthcare providers. If biopsies were taken during your ERCP, these results can take a week or so to become available from the pathologist.