4228 Houma Blvd., Suite 120
Metairie, La 70006


What is ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholanglopancreatography)?

ERCP is an endoscopic procedure used to take X-ray pictures of the ducts (drainage routes) of the gallbladder, liver and pancreas. ERCP may be recommended by your Metairie Gastro physician because of unexplained abnormal liver tests or upper abdominal pain; because of pancreatic problems; or because gallstones are suspected.

ERCP allows the physician to obtain biopsies or other specimens, remove gallstones, dilate a narrowed duct, or to place a drainage tube into a duct. In this way, ERCP often is recommended in order to avoid surgery.


What preparation is required before ERCP?

For the safest examination, the stomach must be empty. You should have nothing to eat or drink, including water, for 6 hours before ERCP.

Your Metairie Gastro physician will need to know of any medications, major illnesses or allergies so that you can be given instructions about these prior to ERCP.

It is especially important to tell your doctor of any Plavix, Warfarin (Coumadin), or any other blood “thinners” which can affect blood coagulation.

For some patients, antibiotics are given intravenously prior to ERCP.


What will occur during ERCP?

At the hospital, you will be registered as a patient, given a consent form to read and to sign, and will have the opportunity to ask the nurse and doctor questions.

A plastic catheter will be placed in an arm or hand vein. Your throat maybe sprayed with a local anesthetic and your Metairie Gastro physician or a nurse anesthesist/anesthiologist will give you medications through the vein to help you sleep during the test.
Generally, patients are  so sedated that there is no discomfort or memory of the ERCP. While lying comfortably on your stomach, a small tube (the endoscope) is passed through the mouth and gently guided into the esophagus by the physician.

With ERCP, the endoscope is passed through the mouth, esophagus, and stomach into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

A small plastic tube, called a catheter, is passed through the endoscope and manipulated by the gastroenterologist into the bile ducts and pancreatic ducts.

Dye is injected and X-ray pictures are obtained. Depending upon what is seen on these X-ray pictures, your doctor may put instruments through the endoscope in order to obtain biopsies or other specimens, remove gallstones, dilate a narrowed duct, or to place a drainage tube into a duct.

In this way, ERCP often can avoid the need for surgery.


What happens after ERCP?

After the test, you will be monitored in the Hospital for 30-60 minutes until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. Your throat may be a little sore for a while, and you may feel bloated right after the procedure because of air introduced into your stomach during the test.
Most patients are allowed to eat after leaving the Endoscopy Center. Some patients are kept overnight in the hospital for observation and administration of antibiotics.

Your Metairie Gastro physician will speak to you after the test but you likely will not remember this. Someone must accompany you home from the procedure because of the sedation used during the examination. You may not drive yourself home.

The physician will speak with the person driving you home and our nurse will give you written instructions and results of the procedure. A report will be sent to your primary physician in a few days.

Please plan to be at the Hospital for three hours.


What are possible complications of ERCP?

ERCP is generally safe and complications are rare when the test is performed by a Board-certified Metairie Gastro gastroenterologist with special training and certification.

Your Metairie Gastro physician will discuss why ERCP is being performed, potential complications from ERCP, and alternative tests that may be available.
Air introduced by the instrument may cause temporary bloating and nausea after ERCP. Irritation may occur at the vein where medications were given, sometimes leaving a tender lump lasting for several weeks. Applying hot moist towels may help relieve discomfort.
Major complications requiring hospitalization can occur but are uncommon during ERCP. They include pancreatitis (painful inflammation of the pancreas) which occurs in around 3-5% of cases.

Less common are serious infections, bowel perforation, bleeding, an allergic reaction to the sedatives used, aggravation of heart or lung diseases, or death.

Often these complications can be managed without surgery, but occasionally they do require corrective surgery. These risks must be balanced against the potential benefits of the procedure and the risks of alternative surgical treatments.

Please call the office immediately if after ERCP you develop fever, significant pain, or bleeding.

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