What is an ERCP?
- Posted on: Nov 15 2017
If we suspect a potential problem with the gallbladder, bile system, pancreas, or liver, we may order an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). An ERCP examines where the digestive fluid comes from and where it enters the intestines. The endoscope used in an ERCP can then treat many of the problems that occur, such as gallstones, on the spot.
Why would I need an ERCP?
An ERCP can detect and treat various abnormalities and conditions affecting the liver, pancreas, and bile ducts. These conditions can include various diseases, certain cancers, gallstones, cysts, and tumors.
These are the types of symptoms that could merit an ERCP:
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Severe abdominal pains
- Light-colored stools
- Darkened urine
How is an ERCP done?
We first sedate you with an intravenous sedative. We also use a local anesthetic to relax your gag mechanism so that we can pass the endoscope through your mouth into your throat. After giving you a mouthpiece to protect your teeth and the endoscope, we insert this flexible, lighted instrument into your mouth. It passes through the esophagus and then down into the stomach. From there, it is guided into the duodenum, which is the small portion of the intestine located closest to the stomach.
Once in place, a thin tube is then passed through the endoscope and inserted into the tubes, or ducts, which lead to the pancreas and gallbladder. Through this tube, a special dye is injected into those ducts, and then x-rays are taken. The x-rays allow our doctors to visualize any cysts, tumors, or gallstones, along with evidence of any disease or other abnormalities.
Beyond diagnosis, the ERCP procedure can take tissue samples for biopsy. ERCP can also remove abnormal growths or gallstones, open the entry of the bile ducts into the bowel, drain blocked areas and diagnose tumors within the pancreas, bile ducts, or gallbladder.
Depending on the results, an ERCP can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to complete.
If you have any of the symptoms noted above, we may recommend an ERCP to diagnose the problem. Call us at Ogden Clinic GI at McKay, 801-387-2550, to make an appointment or to ask any questions you may have.
Posted in: ERCP