Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography Definition

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – an endoscopic procedure that allows diagnostic as well as therapeutic procedures involving the duodenum, pancreatic duct, and common bile duct.

After administering a sedative the gastroenterologist inserts the flexible, lighted endoscope through the mouth, passing it down the esophagus and through the stomach to the duodenum. While advancing the endoscope the gastroenterologist examines these structures.

Once the endoscope is in the duodenum, the gastroenterologist inserts a catheter through the ampulla of Vater and injects contrast into the common bile duct, pancreatic duct, and right and left intrahepatic ducts. X-rays taken after the injection of radiopaque dye into the ducts can show blockages and narrowing of the ducts.

Through ERCP the gastroenterologist can take tissue samples for biopsy, remove small gallstones, and perform other treatments. ERCP takes about an hour, after which the person rests in a recovery area for another two to three hours until the sedative wears off. ERCP has few risks and can help a person avoid more invasive surgery.


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