An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, is an outpatient gastrointestinal assessment of digestive organs. From the doctor’s perspective, the test yields valuable information about GI organs and their function and can reveal active disease processes which require immediate treatment or ongoing management. From the patient’s perspective, the test is relatively easy to tolerate and presents a very low risk for complications.
Let’s talk about what you can expect from this procedure and where you can go for comprehensive digestive care in California.
Why Does My Doctor Want Me to Have an ERCP?
During an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, your gastroenterologist will use a thin, lighted scope to inspect your esophagus, gallbladder, pancreas, liver, bile ducts, and more. He or she will look for structural abnormalities, such as strictures, cysts, tumors, areas of bleeding, gallstones, and more. Infections, such as pancreatitis, can be confirmed with an ERCP, too.
Since the endoscope is equipped with a miniaturized camera and other special instruments, the physician can take real-time video images of the upper GI tract. The contrast dye helps illuminate the structures in question, and the doctor can remove cysts, tissue samples for biopsy, and even small tumors. The physician can also view the flow of bile through the bile ducts and can install stents to open blockages if necessary.
How Do I Prepare for ERCP?
Your doctor will inform you how to prepare for your ERCP at home. You will be required to fast from food and all liquids for at least six hours preceding your assessment. Also, the doctor will tell you whether or not you can take your routine medications; most likely, you will not be able to take any blood thinning medication.
Additionally, be sure to inform your GI physician about any previous adverse experience you have with contrast dye. Specifically, tell the doctor if you are allergic to certain dyes used in endoscopic procedures.
Finally, make sure you arrange for an adult to accompany you to your test and to drive you home afterward. Tell your employer you will be taking the entire day off but should return to work the next day.
You should rest for the balance of the day after the ERCP. Drink plenty of fluids, and consume a soft diet–soups, mashed potatoes, and the like until the next day.
How Will I Recover Afterwards?
Because the test involves only sedation to keep you relaxed and comfortable, you may be fully awake during your ERCP. Some patients do doze off but are easily roused with a verbal prompt or gentle shoulder shake. Likely, you will remember little to nothing regarding your procedure afterward and require a ride home after a short stay in the recovery area.
While most people experience no adverse reactions to their tests, know that you must call your gastroenterologist right away if you experience:
- Chest pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Pain in the upper GI area or an excessively sore throat
State-of-the-Art Gastrointestinal Assessments and Treatments
If you are having digestive problems, trust the outstanding care provided at inSite Digestive Health Care, now Genesis Healthcare Partners, an affiliate of Unio Health Partners, in California. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained GI doctors 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.
To know more about our comprehensive services, call us today or request an appointment online.
We look forward to serving you and helping you have the best possible GI health.