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Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a specialized procedure used to diagnose and treat conditions in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas. These conditions including gallstones, strictures, leaks (from trauma and surgery), and cancer. ERCP combines the use of x-rays and an endoscope, which is a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and a camera on its tip.
During the ERCP Procedure
An endoscope will be inserted through your mouth and gently moved down the throat into the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum). This continues until the endoscope reaches where the ducts of the pancreas (pancreatic ducts) and gallbladder (bile ducts) drain bile into the small intestine (the duodenum).
The doctor will now inject a contrast material or dye into the common opening to the ducts from the liver and pancreas (also called the major duodenal papilla) via a narrow plastic tube (catheter) located inside the endoscope. After the contrast material or die is injected, the doctor will take some x-rays.
After the ERCP Procedure
During an outpatient procedure, patients are allowed to go home after recovering from the effects of the sedating medication. You may feel temporary bloating due to air that entered your body during the procedure, this is normal and will pass over time.