Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography (ERCP)
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure examining the bile and pancreatic ducts. During the examination a dye is injected into the bile and pancreatic ducts using a flexible video endoscope known as a duodenoscope. X-rays are taken to outline the bile ducts and the pancreas demonstrating stones and other diseases.
How an ERCP can help you
The bile ducts, gallbladder and pancreas are the site of several disorders.
ERCP helps in diagnosing and treating:
- Gallstones, which are trapped in the bile duct
- Blockage of the bile duct from tumour
- Blockage of the pancreatic duct from tumour
Risks associated with ERCP
ERCP is generally a well-tolerated procedure, however complications may occur during the procedure including:
- Pancreatitis (3-5%)
- Bleeding (less than 1% of patients)
- Anaesthetic risk - reaction to the sedatives or anaesthetic used, complications from heart or lung disease, localised irritation of the vein area where injected may cause a tender lump lasting for several weeks. Applying heat packs or hot, moist towels may help relieve discomfort.
If therapeutic ERCP is performed (cutting and opening in the bile duct – “sphincterotomy”, stone removal, dilation of a stricture, stent or drain placement, etc.) The possibility of a complication is somewhat higher:
- Pancreatitis in 3-5%
- Bleeding requiring transfusion in 2-3%
- Bowel perforation in 1-2%
The risks must be balanced against the benefits of the procedure and the risks of alternative surgical treatment of the condition.