Advances in medical technology have made it easier for doctors to evaluate conditions that affect your gastrointestinal system. Meade Edmunds, MD, and his experienced team at Edmunds Gastroenterology in Knoxville, Tennessee, use many tools to diagnose and treat digestive issues, including endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which evaluates your pancreas and bile ducts. To learn more about ERCP, call the office today or book an appointment using the online scheduling tool.
ERCP is a procedure used to look at problems involving the bile ducts and the pancreas. During the procedure, dye is injected through a small canula into the bile duct, pancreatic duct, or both and X-rays are taken to investigate any abnormalities.
You come in after fasting, as nothing should be taken by mouth within six hours of the procedure. Your specialist places an intravenous line for your sedation during the procedure, which means you need to have a driver with you. Your doctor reviews your medicines, medical conditions, allergies, and any other issues that may affect the success of your procedure.
You’re positioned towards your stomach on the x-ray table. A mouth guard is placed in your mouth and you’re given adequate sedation until you’re comfortable and asleep.
The ERCP scope is then easily advanced through your mouth down through your esophagus into the stomach and into the first and second portion of the small bowel (duodenum). Contrast is injected into the common bile duct and often the pancreatic duct. At times, a small cut of the middle duct going into the common bile duct may be needed in order to be able to inject the contrast into this duct.
After your procedure, you’re taken to the recovery room and allowed to wake up. You may feel slightly bloated or nauseated due to the air and medicines used during the procedure. Your doctor sits down with you and talks to you about the results.
ERCP is a highly specialized test that is safe overall; however, complications can occur with ERCP. Abdominal bloating, nausea, and vomiting may occur after the procedure. You may also have a sore throat.
Other complications include pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. This typically is mild, although it can result in severe abdominal pain and complications that would require hospitalization. Infection remains a potential complication. Perforation, although very uncommon, does remain a risk for ERCP.
ERCP is an invaluable tool used to diagnose and treat conditions of the liver, pancreas, common bile duct, and gallbladder. It allows not only visualization, but also therapeutic intervention of abnormalities found within these organs. Conditions such as gallstones, blockage of the bile ducts, jaundice, and cancer of the bile ducts and pancreas can be effectively studied through ERCP testing.
There are alternatives, such as CT scan, MRI, MRCP (MRI without contrast) as well as abdominal ultrasound. Therapeutic intervention can be performed during radiology studies in these areas as well.
To learn more about ERCP and whether it’s a test that would benefit you, call Edmunds Gastroenterology today or request an appointment online.
This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please consult with your primary care physician or a specialist regarding your symptoms.