Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography (ERCP)

ERCP is a technique used to study the ducts (drainage routes) of the gallbladder, pancreas and the liver (the drainage channels from the liver are called bile ducts).

A duodenoscope (long, thin, flexible tube-like instrument) is passed through the mouth, oesophagus and stomach into the duodenum (first part of the intestine) while you are under intravenous sedation. The duodenoscope enables the common opening to the bile and pancreas ducts (ampulla of Vater) to be visually identified. A smaller narrow plastic tube (a catheter) is passed through the internal channel of the duodenoscope to inject x-ray contrast into the bile and pancreas ducts. The procedure is with X-ray assistance to enable the doctor to see the images of the ducts and to photograph them.

Common indications for ERCP include diagnosis and treatment of common bile ducts stones, benign and malignant bile duct obstruction and a number of pancreatic diseases.

Whilst ERCP is safe, complications can arise including inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), infection, bleeding and/or bowel perforation.  On rare occasions these can require surgery.

For further information about the ERCP procedure see MercyAscot Endoscopy.