An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a test that your doctor can use to check the tubes (ducts) that drain the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. It utilizes a flexible, lighted scope to help your doctor be able to check for any evidence of problems. X-rays can be taken to check to see if any blockages or other issues are present, and a tissue sample (biopsy) can be taken if needed for more information.
In this blog, Manhattan gastroenterologist Dr. Anthony Borcich will explain what endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is and why it is performed.
What is endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)?
ERCP is a procedure that enables your doctor to examine the pancreatic and bile ducts. A flexible, lighted tub (endoscope) that’s about as thin as your index finger is put in through your mouth, where it goes into your stomach and the first part of your intestine, which is called the duodenum. The endoscope goes into your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, until the point where the ducts from the pancreas and gallbladder drain into the duodenum.
ERCP gives your doctor important information that is used to diagnose conditions of the pancreas or bile ducts, but it can also be used to help treat these same conditions.
It can be used to do the following:
- Perform a biopsy – taking a sample of tissue from an abnormal growth to conduct a more extensive examination as well as perform testing
- Removing a gallstone from the common bile duct
- Opening a narrow bile duct by inserting a small tube (a stent) in the duct
Why is endoscopic ERCP performed?
It can be performed for the following reasons:
- To check for evidence of disease if symptoms suggest it may be present
- To clarify the results of another test, including blood or imaging tests, an ultrasound, or a CT scan
- To investigate the cause of symptoms such as weight loss or jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
- To diagnose and remove bile duct stones
- To open a narrowed bile duct or insert a drain
- To measure the pressure inside the bile ducts (manometry)
- To assist during gallbladder surgery or diagnose and treat complications after the surgery
- To diagnose and treat tumors. Treatment is performed by utilizing tubes to bypass a blocked bile duct.
- To examine the pancreas to confirm a diagnosis of pancreatic disease and determine the need for treatment
- To remove pancreatic stones
What should you expect after ERCP?
You’ll most likely stay in the hospital or outpatient center for an hour or two to allow the sedation or anesthesia to wear off. In some cases, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital.
You may experience bloating or nausea for a short time after the procedure, and you may have a sore throat for one or two days. You should rest at home for the remainder of the day after your procedure, and you can resume a normal diet once your swallowing has returned to normal.
Where can I have an ERCP performed in the NYC area?
Dr. Borcich is a dual-fellowship trained Manhattan gastroenterologist with more than three decades of experience treating patients in greater New York City. He combines expertise and a thorough approach with compassionate care.
Dr. Borcich is board-certified in both gastroenterology and internal medicine. He performs a wide range of procedures, specializing in upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, (ERCP), endoscopic ultrasound and video capsule studies.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Borcich today!