What is this procedure?
ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography) is a procedure which allows your gastroenterologist to study to examine your pancreatic and bile ducts using an endoscope. This flexible, lighted tube is passed through the mouth and down the esophagus, into the stomach and to the point where the pancreatic ducts open to the duodenum. A small plastic tube (cannula) will then be passed through the endoscope, and a dye will be injected into the ducts. This will allow the ducts to be clearly seen during x-rays which will be taken immediately following this injection.
Why would one need this type of procedure?
Your gastroenterologist may recommend this procedure in order to help diagnose conditions of the pancreas and bile ducts. It can also be used in treatment of these conditions. ERCP is also a good diagnosis tool for pancreatic cancer.
Is this type of procedure safe? What are the risks?
ERCP is safe when performed by surgeons who are experienced with this diagnostic procedure. Complications are rare, although they can occur. The most common is pancreatitis due to irritation of the pancreatic duct to the dye or cannula. Occasional irritation caused by medication can also occur.
How can this procedure help me?
If you have experienced any symptoms such as abdominal pain, weight loss, jaundice, or an ultrasound or CT scan that shows stones or a mass in the pancreas or surrounding organs then an ERCP could help to provide a diagnosis as to the cause of these symptoms. Please consult your gastroenterologist, or call us today if you have any questions or concerns.