ERCP or Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a set of procedures that are carried out to diagnose diseases of the gallbladder, biliary system, pancreas, and liver. It allows the doctor to see inside the pancreatic and bile ducts that carry digestive juices from the liver and pancreas to the intestines, and find out obstruction or inflammation if any.
In ERCP, a flexible lighted tube called an “endoscope” is inserted through the mouth into the stomach and the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Then a very small, flexible plastic tube is inserted through the scope that injects some dye, allowing the doctor to see the ducts through X-ray. Usually, ERCP is done before or after gallbladder surgery. ERCP is also helpful in finding cancer or non-cancerous lesions
ERCP procedure is followed by giving sedatives to make the person relaxed and sleepy throughout the process. Sometimes ERCP is done under general anesthesia after surveying the health condition of the patient. Though many people think ERCP is a painful process, and worry about discomfort from the endoscopy, most people tolerate it well and feel comfortable afterward.
Before conducting the test your doctor will ask the patient not to eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before the test, as to visualize the entire area it is important that the stomach should be empty. Also, the doctor may instruct to adjust some dose of medications or in some cases may ask to stop taking specific medications prior to the examination.