How It Is Done continued...
ERCP is done in the hospital. You
may have to stay overnight if your doctor removes gallstones or places a stent
during the test. Otherwise, you will be allowed to go home after the
An ERCP usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes. You will be
in the recovery room 1 to 2 hours.
Your throat may be numbed with
an anesthetic spray, gargle, or lozenge to relax your gag reflex and make it
easier to insert the endoscope. Shortly before the test begins, an intravenous
(IV) line will be placed in a vein in your arm. You will be given pain medicine
sedative through the IV during the test. You may also
be given an antibiotic through the IV.
You will be asked to lie on
your left side with your head tilted slightly forward. A mouth guard may be
inserted to protect your teeth from the endoscope. The lubricated tip of the
endoscope will be guided into your mouth while the doctor gently presses your
tongue out of the way. You may be asked to swallow to help move the tube along.
The instrument is no thicker than many foods you swallow. Once the endoscope is
in your esophagus, your head will be tilted upright to help the scope slide
Your doctor will slowly move the endoscope into your stomach
and duodenum. Your doctor looks at your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum as the
scope moves forward. When the endoscope reaches your duodenum, you will be
turned over to lie flat on your abdomen.
A small amount of air will be
injected through the scope to make it easier for the doctor to see. The
endoscope is moved forward until it reaches the point where the ducts from the
pancreas and gallbladder drain into the duodenum (the papilla). A thin tube
called a catheter is then passed through the endoscope into the papilla, and
contrast material is injected into the bile or pancreatic ducts. Several X-rays
are taken. You will remain on your abdomen while the X-rays are developed. If
necessary, additional X-rays may be taken.
called biopsy forceps or brushes, may be inserted through the endoscope to
collect samples. If a gallstone is seen during the test, the doctor can
sometimes remove it. A narrowed bile duct can be held open by inserting a small
wire-mesh or plastic tube called a stent through the endoscope and into the
When the test is completed, the endoscope is slowly
After the test
After the ERCP is completed, you
will be observed in a recovery room for 1 to 2 hours. If your throat was numbed
before the test, you will not be allowed to eat or drink until your throat is
no longer numb and you are able to swallow without choking. You can then resume
eating and drinking normally.
Unless you are staying in the
hospital, you will need to have someone drive you home after the test. You will
not be allowed to drive or to return to work for 24 hours.
doctor will make sure you do not have any signs of complications before you go
home. If your doctor removed a gallstone or placed a stent during the test, you
may need to stay in the hospital overnight.