What is ERCP?
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, is a specialized technique used to study the bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder. Ducts are drainage routes; the drainage channels from the liver are called bile or biliary ducts. The pancreatic duct is the drainage channel from the pancreas.
How is ERCP Performed?
During ERCP, a scope (duodenoscope) is passed through your mouth, esophagus and stomach into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). The duodenoscope can be directed and moved around the many bends of the stomach and duodenum. This thin, flexible tube lets your doctor see bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder. After your doctor sees the common opening to the ducts from the liver and pancreas, called the major duodenal papilla, your doctor will pass a narrow plastic tube called a catheter through the endoscope and into the ducts. Your doctor will inject a contrast material (dye) into the pancreatic or biliary ducts and will take X-rays. An open channel in the endoscope also allows other instruments to be passed through it in order to perform biopsies, to insert plastic or metal tubing to relieve obstruction of the bile ducts or pancreatic duct caused by cancer or scarring, and to perform incisions by using electrocautery (electric heat). Sources: US National Library of Medicine, American Society of Gastrointentinal Endoscopy, Medicine.net