Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a direct visualization of the biliary and pancreatic ducts. ERCP is used primarily to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts, including gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks (from trauma and surgery) and cancer. ERCP combines the use of X-rays and an endoscope. Through the endoscope, the physician can see the inside of the stomach and duodenum, and inject dyes into the ducts in the biliary tree and pancreas so they can be seen on X-ray. Tissue samples may be taken to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
How Should I Prepare for ERCP?
Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the procedure to be accurate and safe. You will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure or for six to eight hours beforehand, depending on the time of your procedure. Also, the physician will need to know whether you have any allergies — especially to iodine, which is in the dye. Since you will receive sedation during your procedure, you will not be allowed to drive home; arrangements for someone to drive you should be made beforehand. The physician may give you other special instructions.