During an ERCP, your doctor will insert a scope into your mouth and gently guide it through the esophagus and stomach into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). Once your doctor sees the common opening to the ducts from the liver and pancreas, he or she will insert a narrow plastic tube called a catheter through the endoscope and into the ducts. Your doctor will inject a contrast material (dye) into the pancreatic or biliary ducts and will take X-rays. ERCP is used to diagnose biliary and pancreatic conditions, but can also be used to treat certain issues found during the procedure. Your physician can obtain a tissue sample from an abnormal growth for further testing, remove gallstones or relieve an obstruction in the bile duct through the placement of a stent.
ERCP is performed on an empty stomach and under IV anesthesia. Your physician will give you specific fasting and medication instructions that are necessary for the best possible examination. Because sedation is used for an ERCP, you will need to have an adult drive you home after the procedure is completed.