After carefully considering your symptoms, either your primary care physician or a specialist has referred you to the Idaho Digestive Health Institute for an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure. Read on to understand better what to expect from your upcoming system:

What Is An ERCP Procedure?

An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure is a diagnostic and treatment procedure. It is an invasive procedure that combines an endoscope and x-ray to visualize the pancreatic and bile ducts allowing them to identify problems affecting the gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and bile ducts. The endoscope incorporates small tools that can treat many of the issues it identifies.

What Is An Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) Procedure?

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:

  • Pancreatitis
  • 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
  • Tumors
  • 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.

What Should You Expect for A Recovery Process After an ERCP?

When the procedure is complete, you will be moved to the recovery area. You will need to remain there for one to two hours at which time your designated support person can drive you home. You might have a sore throat after the procedure. Bloating and nausea are also common side effects. These side effects should be short-term, and you should be able to return to your routine the following day.

What Should You Expect for Recovery After Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

While serious side effects are not common, there are a few risks that can occur. Some of these can be easily remedied, like an allergic reaction to the IV dye. On rare occasions, there could be complications that would require hospitalization. These include:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Infection in the bile duct or gallbladder
  • Inflammation in the pancreas known as pancreatitis
  • Perforation in ducts, small intestine, or stomach

If you experience any of the following severe symptoms during your recovery at home, seek medical help immediately.

  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Severe or worsening abdominal pain
  • Worsening sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Tarry stools, which are a sign of rectal bleeding

Why Choose Idaho Digestive Health Institute and Dr. Woolf?

The Idaho Digestive Health Institute staff put patient safety first, and Dr. Woolf is an experienced and caring practitioner. You will receive exceptional care throughout your visit to us. If you are in the Caldwell, Idaho area and are ready to schedule your Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure, contact us at your earliest convenience.