What's ERCP And Who Does It?
Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that allows a gastroenterologist to examine the pancreatic and bile ducts. ERCP is an essential tool in diagnosing pancreatic conditions, managing jaundice, and dealing with gallstones that migrate to the bile ducts. ERCP is best performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, who will have the highest ability to perform the procedure, interpret the results, and act on the results. How ERCP Works ERCP is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require abdominal incisions. During this procedure, a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach and duodenum, or the top part of the small intestine. Once in the duodenum, the doctor will be able to identify a small opening into the ducts, through which he inserts a thin tube (cannula). Finally, the doctor injects dye into the ducts through the cannula, and x-rays are taken. This provides an image of the system of ducts that connects the pancreas and liver to the intestines. If necessary, the doctor can take biopsies at the same time. Uses of ERCP ERCP is often used to diagnose people who have symptoms of diseases of the bile ducts or pancreas, especially if blood tests or other imaging tests gave inconclusive results. Symptoms that may indicate such problems include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- CT scan or ultrasound showing gallstones or a mass in the ducts, pancreas, or liver