Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a specialized procedure that evaluates, diagnoses, and treats conditions that affect the liver, bile ducts, and pancreas. The team at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates, with eight offices in Richmond, Colonial Heights, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Mechanicsville, Virginia, includes gastroenterologists with advanced training in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. To find out more about ERCP, call the office nearest you or schedule an appointment online today.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a specialized procedure that combines endoscopy and radiology to evaluate and treat diseases that affect the liver, bile ducts, and pancreas.
For the procedure, your gastroenterologist inserts an endoscope in your mouth and advances it through your esophagus, stomach, and the first section of your small intestine. Then, they guide a special tube through the endoscope that injects a dye that allows them to see the bile and pancreatic ducts in your small intestine.
The bile ducts carry bile to your small intestine to help digest fat in the food. The pancreatic ducts carry the enzymes that help break down carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Your gastroenterologist at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates explains why you need an ERCP. They perform the procedure if you have symptoms that suggest a problem with your bile ducts, liver, or pancreas, such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
They may also recommend the procedure if you have stones in your bile or pancreatic ducts or have a tumor in the pancreas, gallbladder, or liver. During the procedure, your gastroenterologist can diagnose and treat these conditions.
Before your ERCP, your gastroenterologist may perform a physical examination and run lab work to assess general health. They also talk to you about the procedure and how to prepare for it.
You may need to follow a special diet for up to two days before your ERCP and stop eating and drinking eight hours before the procedure.
To minimize pain and anxiety, your gastroenterologist administers an anesthetic through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm before starting your ERCP. They may also spray a numbing agent on the back of your throat to prevent gagging when inserting the endoscope.
Once you’re ready, your gastroenterologist places the endoscope in your mouth and slowly advances it to your small intestine. They insert a small scope through the endoscope, guide it towards the ducts, and inject the contrast dye.
Your gastroenterologist takes X-rays of your pancreatic and bile ducts and performs any necessary procedures, such as removing gallstones or taking tissue samples.
The ERCP takes 30-60 minutes. After the procedure, you go to the recovery room, and then your gastroenterologist sends you home. You must have someone drive you home and plan to take it easy the rest of the day.
To schedule a consultation at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates and learn more about ERCP, call the office closest to you or schedule an appointment online today.