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Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

What is an ERCP?

ERCP is a specialized procedure that uses a lighted, flexible endoscope that is passed into the upper gastrointestinal tract. The endoscope then allows passage of a small catheter into the bile duct or pancreas duct. While inside the bile duct or pancreas duct, ERCP can then be used to treat a variety of bile duct and pancreatic duct disorders. This specialized procedure is performed by two of our highly skilled endoscopists: Dr. Gonzalo Pandolfi, M.D. and Dr. Aditya Dholakia, D.O. 

What problems can ERCP detect?

  • Bile duct or pancreas duct stones
  • Bile duct or pancreas duct narrowings
  • Bile duct or pancreas duct cancers

When is ERCP used?

  • To remove bile duct or pancreas duct stones
  • To open either non-cancerous or cancerous bile duct or pancreas duct narrowings using plastic or metal stents
  • It is not used to remove gallbladder stones

How to Prepare for ERCP

The upper GI tract must be empty before upper GI endoscopy. Generally, no eating or drinking is allowed for 4 to 8 hours before the procedure. Smoking and chewing gum are also prohibited during this time.

Patients should tell their doctor about all health conditions they have—especially heart and lung problems, diabetes, and allergies— and all medications they are taking. Patients may be asked to temporarily stop taking medications that affect blood clotting or interact with sedatives, which are often given during ERCP.

Medications and vitamins that may be restricted before and after upper GI endoscopy include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Blood thinners
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Diabetes medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Dietary supplements

Driving is not permitted for 12 to 24 hours after ERCP to allow sedatives time to completely wear off. Before the appointment, patients should make plans for a ride home.

What are the risks associated with ERCP?

Risks associated with ERCP include (but not limited to):

  • Abnormal reaction to sedatives
  • Bleeding
  • Accidental puncture of the upper GI tract or bile/pancreas duct
  • Infection of the GI tract or bile ducts
  • Injury/inflammation of the pancreas requiring inpatient hospital care

Suburban Gastroenterology