ERCP or Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography is a procedure which allows a surgeon to examine the pancreatic and bile duct where it is common for gallstones to collect. A flexible telescope (endoscope) with a light source on the end is passed down the gullet (oesphagus) into the stomach and into the top part of the small intestine (duodenum). The small opening in the wall of the intestine is found (ampulla) and a small plastic tube is passed down the endoscope and up into the bile duct. A radio opaque dye is then injected into the duct, enabling the structures to be viewed under xray. It then should be possible to see if the bile duct is obstructed and if a gallstone is present.
ERCP is used to diagnose and treat different conditions of the pancreas and bile ducts. The most comon reason to do an ERCP is for jaundice or gallstones.
An ERCP can be performed before or after gallbladder surgery. Gallstones that have lodged in the bile duct can also be diagnosed and removed with an ERCP, prior to gallbladder surgery.
A bile duct or pancreatic tumour can also be diagnosed by ERCP and obstruction of the bile duct causing jaundice can be alleviated with the insertion of a small plastic drainpipe into the bile duct, called a stent, this can then allow the bile to flow freely past the obstruction or tumour.
An ERCP is normally done as a day case procedure under sedation and does not need a general anaesthetic but does require a 6 hour period without food before the ERCP takes place.
I undetake a weekly ERCP list at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital. For more information or to make an appointment please go to the clinic section of this site.