Why You May Need ERCP?
If you are showing symptoms such as unexplained abdominal pain or jaundiced skin and eyes, there is a strong possibility that your problem may involve the liver, pancreas, or bile ducts. Using an ERCP, we can discover:
- Pancreatic cysts
- Pancreatic cancer
- Gallbladder problems
- Liver cancer
- Cancer of the bile ducts
- Stones or other blockages in the bile ducts
- Blockages or a narrowing of the pancreatic ducts
- Bile duct infections
In many cases, once the problem is identified, the doctor can repair the damage during the ERCP session.
What Happens During the ERCP Procedure?
An ERCP is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. Your gastroenterologist will put you under conscious sedation, where you are awake but relaxed. If there are complexities to your case, you may be put under general anesthesia. You may receive medication that allows you to forget the procedure. You must remain completely relaxed during the process. One of the procedure staff will spray your throat with numbing spray.
Once you are completely relaxed and your throat is numb, the doctor will introduce an endoscopy tube through your mouth and guide the tube down the esophagus, through the stomach, and into the first segment of your small intestine, known as the duodenum. The endoscopy tube has a light and video camera incorporated into it, so your doctor will be observing each of these areas on his monitor. When the endoscope reaches the duodenum, a dye will be injected through the scope that highlights the details of the pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver. X-rays are taken to preserve the images.
The patient, lying on their left side throughout this first part of the procedure, is rolled over onto their stomach so that all angles of the various ducts are captured. If a gallstone is discovered during this examination, the doctor can easily take steps to remove it at that time. When a duct is narrowed, the gastroenterologist can widen the restricted area with small tubes to open them up. Any needed tissue samples can be taken for further study as well.
The procedure lasts an average of 20 to 40 minutes.