Blockage of the bile duct results in jaundice, and often in infection. Relief of this blockage allows the bile to drain and the symptoms to resolve. Any gallstones within the ducts will be removed if possible.
ERCP involves passing a flexible endoscope (duodenoscope) through the mouth and stomach to the first part of the bowel called the duodenum. Looking through this scope the outlet of the ducts (pipes) from the liver and pancreas can be seen. A small tube is then passed into these ducts. Contrast (dye) is injected and x-ray films are taken. The x rays may show gallstones in the ducts or narrowing of the ducts. The tiny muscle at the bottom of the ducts is cut to create more space. Stones can then be removed, or small plastic tubes placed. This allows bile to drain out and into the bowel as normal.
Complications of some sort occur in up to 5% of people.
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), bleeding from the bile duct, infection of the bile, and perforation of the bowel may all occur. Usually these complications settle with treatment, although they may require a prolonged hospital stay.
- In <1% of cases complications can be fatal.
After your consultation:
- Obtain authorization from your medical aid and book your bed for your hospital admission.
- Carefully read through pre-operative information provided.
Day before surgery:
- Do not eat/drink after 22h00, the night before your surgery, unless otherwise specified by your surgeon or anaesthetist (you should be fasting for at least 6 hours before the procedure for solids but you are allowed to take clear liquids up to two hours before your procedure).
Day of surgery:
- Arrive for admission at indicated time on ‘Code & Consent’ sheet.
- Change into theatre attire, remove all valuable belongings.
Approximately 45 – 60 min
Duration of hospital stay:
- Usually overnight, but it may be longer if you have preceding infection, or develop any complications.
- You may start exercising 24hours after the procedure
Back to work:
- You will only require the day of the procedure and the day of hospital discharge off work. However the illness which required the procedure to be performed may require a longer period off work.
Some pain and discomfort post operatively may be expected following any operation, but the following measures are used to lessen the pain experienced:
- Warming devises in theatre as well as warm intravenous fluids.
- Intra-operative pain medication through the drip.
- Post-operative medication through the drip, please inform the nurses if you are in pain so that medication will be administered to you.
- As close to one week after discharge as possible. Please contact the rooms to schedule an appointment.