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Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP)

An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) test checks the tubes (ducts) that drain the liver camera.gif, gallbladder camera.gif, and pancreas camera.gif. A flexible, lighted scope (endoscope) and X-ray pictures are used.

The scope is put through the mouth and gently moved down the throat. It goes into your esophagus camera.gif, stomach, and duodenum until it reaches the point where the ducts from the pancreas and gallbladder drain into the duodenum. X-rays will then be taken.

ERCP can treat certain problems found during the test. In some cases, your doctor can insert small tools through the scope to:

  • Take a sample of tissue (biopsy) from an abnormal growth. Then it can be checked for problems.
  • Remove a gallstone in the common bile duct.
  • Open a narrowed bile duct. A narrowed bile duct can be opened by inserting a small wire-mesh or plastic tube (called a stent) in the duct.

Why It Is Done

ERCP is done to:

  • Check lasting belly pain or jaundice.
  • Find gallstones or diseases of the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.
  • Remove gallstones from the common bile duct if they are causing problems. These may include a blockage (obstruction), inflammation or infection of the common bile duct (cholangitis), or pancreatitis.
  • Open a narrowed bile duct or insert a drain.
  • Get a tissue sample for further testing (biopsy).
  • Measure the pressure inside the bile ducts (manometry).
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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