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Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

ERCP is a specialized endoscopy technique used to study the ducts of the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. An endoscope is passed through the mouth, esophagus and stomach to the small intestines (duodenum). A small catheter is then passed through the endoscope into the ducts. A dye is gently injected into the ducts and x-rays of the liver and pancreas are then taken. The information provided by the ERCP is much more detailed than standard x-rays or scans in detecting organ abnormalities and diseases of the pancrease, bile ducts, liver and gallbladder, and indications for surgery.

An ERCP is valuable in diagnosing diseases of the liver and pancreas

After a diagnostic ERCP, therapeutic ERCP techniques can open the end of bile ducts, extract small stone or place stents to improve drainage in obstructed ducts.

Patients receive sedation for an ERCP and sometimes a local anesthesia is applied to the throat. The endoscopic instrument does not interfere with breathing. Air is introduced through the endoscopy and this may cause temporary bloating during and after the procedure. The injection of the contrast dye rarely causes any discomfort.