Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP)
How To Prepare
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your test may be canceled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of the test, please do so using only a sip of water.
If your doctor prescribed antibiotics before the test, take them as directed. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
Tell your doctor if you:
- Have hay fever, hives, food or medicine
- Are allergic to shellfish (shrimp,
scallops, lobster), the iodine used in the
contrast material for X-ray tests, or any other
substance that contains iodine.
- Have had a digestive tract study
that used barium, such as a
barium enema, within the last week.
taking blood-thinning medicines, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding
the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will
mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
You will be asked to empty your
bladder and remove any dentures, jewelry, or contact lenses before having an
How It Is Done
An endoscopic retrograde
cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) is done by a doctor trained in
endoscopy, usually a doctor who specializes in
diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologist). A thin, flexible
fiber-optic endoscope is used.
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.