WHAT IS AN ERCP?
ERCP stands for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram. This is a procedure which allows clinicians to examine the tubes that drain bile from the liver into the bowel (bile duct and gall bladder) and the pancreatic duct in to the bowel. The procedure may be diagnostic or therapeutic.
ERCP gives information about the bile ducts and the pancreatic ducts. It may show, for example, narrowing, obstruction or gall stones. Diagnostic ERCP may not show the precise nature of the obstruction. Sometimes a biopsy or brushings are taken.
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In a therapeutic ERCP, the endoscopist will undertake minor operations such as sphincterotomy, stent insertion or stone removal. Sphincterotomy involves a small cut at the lower end of the bile duct. Almost all of the ERCPs undertaken by us are therapeutic. ERCP is usually carried out under anaesthetic: this means you will be completely asleep. In some cases, you may be able to go home when you have recovered from the procedure. You must not drive. You will need someone to take you home and be with you. ERCP is unsuccessful in about 5% of cases. This may be for a variety of reasons; you may be asked to return for a further attempt.