What is ERCP?
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography or ERCP is a medical procedure that combines x-rays and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to diagnose and treat problems of the liver, bile ducts, pancreas, and gallbladder.
During this process, the doctors insert the scope through the mouth, and then down the throat, esophagus, stomach, and the initial part of the small intestine. This enables the healthcare provider to have a clear view of the insides of these organs and look for any potential health issues. Next, a tube with be based on the scope. After that, the doctor will inject a dye, which will highlight all of the organs on the X-ray.
Why is it Needed?
One may need to get an ERCP procedure done if they have been experiencing unexplained abdominal pain or paling of the yes and skin, also known as jaundice. Moreover, it is also used to get detailed information if an individual has pancreatitis or cancer of the bile ducts and pancreas. Or liver.
Other things that can be diagnosed with the help of ERCP include:
- Stones or blockage in the bile ducts.
- Fluid leakage from pancreatic or bile ducts.
- Narrowing or blockage of the pancreatic ducts.
- Infection in the bile or pancreatic ducts.
Apart from these reasons, your healthcare provider can also have other reasons to prescribe an ERCP test.
What are the Risks of ERCP?
Just like any other medical procedure, ERCP poses some health risks as well. You can inquire about these risks from your doctor.
Some possible risks of ERCP include:
- Inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) or pancreas (pancreatitis). Pancreatitis is known to be one of the most common risks of ERCP Hence, you must always have a discussion about it with your doctor ahead of time.
- A tear in the lining of the upper part of the stomach, small intestine, or esophagus.
- Accumulation of bile outside the biliary system, which is known as biloma.
Importantly, you should not get an ERCP done if:
- You have had gastrointestinal surgery that has caused the ducts of the biliary system to get blocked.
- You have abnormal anatomy like pouches in the esophagus. This can make it difficult to perform the procedure.
- You have barium in the large or small intestine that was caused by a barium procedure. The barium can significantly interfere with an ERCP test.
- You are pregnant. Radiation exposure during an ERCP can result in various birth defects.
How to Prepare for ERCP?
Here is how you will have to prepare for an ERCP:
- You will have to sign a consent form that will grant the doctor permission to do the procedure.
- You will be asked questions about a reaction to any contrast dye or being allergic to iodine.
- Your doctor will also inquire if you are allergic to latex, medicines, anesthesia, or tape.
- You will be required to stop eating or drinking eight hours before the ERCP You can get instructions regarding the special diet from your doctor.
- You will have to inform your doctor if you have a history of a bleeding disorder or if you are on any blood-thinking medicines.