What is the Procedure of Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)?
Like other imaging techniques such as Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is also an imaging technique.
ERCP combines upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and X-rays to record imagery of the bile ducts and pancreas. This is performed by involving a flexible tube that enters the mouth and into the stomach and the small intestine (duodenum). It goes through the papilla to get to the bile and pancreatic ducts. To see the insides clearly a tiny amount of dye will be injected into the ducts prepared for X-Ray Imaging.
Why do you need Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)?
This ERCP procedure allows your doctor to treat symptoms of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and upper abdominal pain. Essentially, it can be used to take tissue samples to determine whether there are any stones or tumours in the common bile duct, biliary tree, liver, or pancreas, and for obstructions. Also, it is useful before and after gallbladder surgery to enhance the surgical process
What to Expect on the Day of ERCP Procedure?
- Do not eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before surgery. This ensures that your upper intestines are kept free of food and fluids.
- The gastroenterologist will explain the procedure and allow you to ask any questions about the ERCP procedure and care. If you choose this procedure, you will need to sign a consent form to give your consent.
- You will be asked to change into a hospital gown, and a small plastic tube (cannula) may be inserted into a vein in your arm to give medication or intravenous fluids during the procedure.
- Once all necessary tests have been completed and your consent has been obtained, you will be carted to the angiography suite. A team of doctors, nurses and radiographers will be on hand to help and support you throughout the procedure.
How to Recover after the ERCP Procedure?
After undergoing an ERCP, you will be taken to a recovery area where a nurse will regularly monitor your pulse, blood pressure, and overall condition to watch for any potential complications. You need to remain in the endoscopy unit for 4 to 6 hours. This observation period helps ensure that any complications are promptly identified and addressed. If you are being transported to your home hospital via ambulance, you will stay in the endoscopy unit until you are fully alert, which typically takes about an hour.
Regarding your regular medications, continue taking them unless instructed otherwise. If there were specific medications you were advised to pause before the procedure, your doctor or nurse will guide you on when to resume them.
As for eating and drinking, following the procedure, you can usually return to your regular diet once you are fully awake. However, depending on the specifics of your ERCP, you might be instructed to abstain from eating or drinking for 12 hours or more. Your doctor or nurse will provide detailed instructions on when it is appropriate to resume eating and drinking, and if any modifications to your diet are necessary. They will also inform you about transitioning from a soft diet back to solid foods.