Patients who have issues with their liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts may need to undergo an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) to evaluate their condition and help the doctor plan out their treatment. Some of the GI conditions that an ERCP may be used to diagnose are gallstones, inflamed gallbladder, blockages in the bile duct, pancreatitis, cysts in the pancreas, and pancreatic cancer.
Continue reading to find out more about ERCP, including how to prepare for it and how it is performed.
What Happens During an ERCP?
An ERCP involves the use of a special dye, X-rays, and an endoscope, which is a long, thin tube with a light and camera on the end. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth, goes down into the stomach, and through the duodenum. Then, it is passed through the small intestine until it reaches the opening of the bile duct or pancreatic duct. A catheter is inserted through the endoscope to blow air and inject special dyes into the organs. This allows the doctor to visualize the upper GI tract and take pictures and videos, which will guide them in the creation of a treatment plan. Any abnormalities, such as growths and blockages in the organs will be in full view of the doctor, and specialized tools can be used to take tissue samples for laboratory testing, such as biopsies. An ERCP is not just a diagnostic tool but a treatment method.It is used to break up stones, widen narrowed ducts, and remove tumors.
How Do You Prepare for an ERCP?
You will be asked to fast before the test, so your stomach is empty during the procedure – that’s eight hours with no food and two hours with no liquids. Be sure to let your doctor know if you are taking any medication or have allergies, as well as heart and lung problems.
During the test, you will be given sedatives through an IV line in order to help you relax, and the doctor will use a numbing spray on your throat. You will be semi-conscious during the procedure, but you may not remember anything afterward. Once you are sedated, the endoscope will be inserted and the procedure will commence.
The procedure typically takes just under two hours to complete.Afterward, you will need someone to drive you home, as you are not going to be in the best condition to drive yourself safely due to the sedation.
Who Performs ERCPs?
ERCPs are usually performed by gastroenterologists—doctors who specialize in diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. These doctors are the most experienced and qualified to do the procedure.
ERCP Procedure in California
The board-certified and fellowship-trained GI doctors at inSite Digestive Health Care frequently perform ERCPs for qualifying patients. We are so experienced in the procedure that in most cases, we get you the results immediately after the test. For any questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our GI experts, call our location nearest you or use our convenient online request form.
inSite Digestive Health Care is the largest gastroenterology practice in California and has several locations across the state to serve you. We look forward to helping you feel your best.