Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (commonly known as ERCP) is a form of investigation, which is used to examine the bile ducts that connect the liver with the small intestine and the pancreas. The examination is usually carried out on an outpatient basis. The ERCP may be recommended if you have experienced abdominal pain, you are jaundice or your doctor suspects that the bile ducts may be blocked due to an obstruction such as gallstones.
During the procedure a thin flexible tube, known as an endoscope, is passed through the mouth and down into the stomach and then a coloured dye is passed through the tube to make X-ray images of the bile ducts clearer. X-ray images are then taken of the bile ducts and the pancreas.
If the images show that the bile ducts are blocked by gallstones, these may be collected using a small wire basket and if the ducts are narrowed, a stent can be used to hold the ducts open.
Before the procedure you will be asked not to eat or drink anything for a period of 6 hours, which is to ensure that the stomach is empty. You will then be given a sedative before the procedure, which will prevent you from feeling discomfort when the tube is passed through. If Dr Bansi or your specified doctor feels that there is a risk of infection, they will give you antibiotics.
The results of the investigation will usually be ready within 14 days.