Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) enables the physician to diagnose problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas.
ERCP is used primarily to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts including gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks (from trauma and surgery), and cancer.
ERCP combines the use of x rays and an endoscope, which is a long, flexible, lighted tube. Through it, the physician can see the inside of the stomach and duodenum, and inject dyes into the ducts in the biliary tree and pancreas so they can be seen on X rays.
If the exam shows a gallstone or narrowing of the ducts, the physician can insert instruments into the scope to remove or relieve the obstruction. Also, tissue samples (biopsy) can be taken for further testing.
Possible complications of ERCP include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), infection, bleeding, and perforation of the duodenum. Except for pancreatitis, such problems are uncommon. You may have tenderness or a lump where the sedative was injected, but that should go away in a few days.