Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
What is ERCP?
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that combines upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and x-rays to treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts.
What are the bile and pancreatic ducts?
Your bile ducts are tubes that carry bile from your liver to your gallbladder and duodenum. Your pancreatic ducts are tubes that carry pancreatic juice from your pancreas to your duodenum. Small pancreatic ducts empty into the main pancreatic duct. Your common bile duct and main pancreatic duct join before emptying into your duodenum.
Why do doctors use ERCP?
Doctors use ERCP to treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. Doctors also use ERCP to diagnose problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts if they expect to treat problems during the procedure. For diagnosis alone, doctors may use noninvasive tests—tests that do not physically enter the body—instead of ERCP. Noninvasive tests such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)—a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) —are safer and can also diagnose many problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts.
Doctors perform ERCP when your bile or pancreatic ducts have become narrowed or blocked because of
- gallstones that form in your gallbladder and become stuck in your common bile duct
- acute pancreatitis
- chronic pancreatitis
- trauma or surgical complications in your bile or pancreatic ducts
- pancreatic pseudocysts
- tumors or cancers of the bile ducts
- tumors or cancers of the pancreas