What is ERCP?
While an Endoscopy is the examination of an internal body part with an instrument called an endoscope, ERCP is another technique which uses X-ray to view the patient’s bile and pancreatic ducts.
The function of the common bile duct and pancreatic duct is to drain the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas; the two main ducts convey the bile and the pancreatic juice into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The most common reason why someone would need an ERCP is because of a blockage of one of these ducts (often due to gallstones).
So what happens during an ERCP?
You will lie on a special table during the examination, generally on your left side or stomach. A plastic mouth guard is placed between the teeth to prevent damage to the teeth and endoscope. Many patients are able to sleep during the test; others are very relaxed and not aware of the examination.
You will be asked to swallow the tube; most people have no difficulty with this as a result of the sedating medications. Once the scope is inserted through the mouth, air is introduced to open up the esophagus, stomach, and intestine so the scope can be passed through those structures and to allow Dr. Klin to see.
Dr. Klin will examine the bile and/or pancreatic ducts, looking for abnormalities such as blockages, irregularity in the tissue, problems with the flow of bile or pancreatice fluid, stones, or tumors. If a problem is found, Dr. Klin can often perform a procedure to repair, or improve, the condition; as a result, ERCP has replaced surgery in most patients with common bile duct and pancreatic disease.
What can I expect during an ERCP?
Many patients who need ERCP are hospitalized, but ERCP can also be performed as an outpatient procedure, depending on your condition and on the complexity of the required procedure. REMEMBER: You will need a family member, or friend, to escort you home after the examination. This is due to the medications used for sedation that can impair reflexes, judgment, and your ability to drive.
What happens during recovery from an ERCP?
Dr. Klin advises his patients not to return to work or drive the day of the ERCP procedure. The most common discomfort after the examination is a feeling of bloating as a result of the air that is introduced during the examination. This usually resolves quickly. Some people may also experience a mild sore throat.
Dr. Klin can usually tell you the results of the examination right away. If biopsies were taken, the tissue will need to be sent to a lab for analysis.
What symptoms should be reported following an ERCP procedure?
ERCP is a safe procedure and serious complications are uncommon. However, if complications do occur, they will manifest themselves with the following symptoms, which should be reported immediately to Dr. Klin’s office:
- Severe abdominal pain (not just gas cramps)
- A firm, distended abdomen
- Fever or chills
- Difficulty in swallowing or a severe sore throat
- A crunching feeling under the skin
Source: AMA Complete Encyclopedia, Copyright 2003, American Medical Association
Return to list