Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP)
How It Is Done continued...
You will need to lie on your left side. Your head will be tilted slightly forward. A mouth guard may be inserted to protect your teeth from the scope. The scope's tip will be lubricated. The doctor will guide it into your mouth while gently pressing your tongue out of the way. You may be asked to swallow to help move the tube along. The scope is no thicker than many foods you swallow.
When the scope is in your esophagus, your head will be tilted upright to help the scope slide down. Then your doctor will slowly move the scope into your stomach and duodenum. Your doctor looks at all three of these areas as the scope moves forward. When it reaches your duodenum, you will be turned over to lie flat on your belly.
A small amount of air will be injected through the scope. This makes it easier for the doctor to see. The doctor will move the scope forward until it reaches the point where the ducts from the pancreas and gallbladder drain into the duodenum. A thin tube called a catheter is then passed through the scope into that area. Then contrast material is injected into the bile or pancreatic ducts. Several X-rays are taken. You will stay on your belly until the X-rays are ready to view. If needed, the doctor may take more X-rays.
The doctor may insert small tools through the scope. This allows the doctor to take a tissue sample, remove a gallstone, open a narrowed bile duct, or place a stent.
When the test is done, the scope is slowly withdrawn.
After the test
After the test, you will be observed in a recovery room. If your throat was numbed before the test, you will not be allowed to eat or drink until your throat is no longer numb. You will need to be able to swallow without choking. You can then eat and drink normally.
If your doctor removed a gallstone or placed a stent during the test, you may need to stay a night in the hospital. You cannot drive or return to work for 24 hours. If you can go home the day of the test, you will need to have someone drive you.
Your doctor will check for signs of problems before you go home.
After the test, you may feel bloated and notice a temporary change in your bowel habits. This is because air was used to open the bile and pancreatic ducts. Call your doctor if you have bleeding from the rectum or if your stools look black or bloody.