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clear spacerGastroenterology

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

This procedure is used to study the drainage tubes, or ducts, of the gallbladder, pancreas and liver. It may be used to identify and relieve obstructions of these ducts. It can also help diagnose diseases of the liver, biliary tree and pancreas. During this procedure, a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope is passed through the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small bowel. Once the openings to the bile duct and pancreas are identified, a plastic tube called a catheter will be passed through the endoscope and into the ducts. A contrast dye is injected into the pancreatic or biliary ducts and X-rays are taken.

Hospital outpatient procedure

Prior to the procedure, an intravenous line (IV) will be started. You will receive sedative medication to make you more comfortable. You will lie on your abdomen during the procedure.

ERCP is generally a well-tolerated procedure. Complications can occur, but they are uncommon. Potential complications are pancreatitis (inflammation or infection of the pancreas), infections, bowel perforation, bleeding and, rarely, death.

ERCP preparation

If you are unable to keep your appointment or need to reschedule, please contact our office at 502-896-4711 at least 48 hours prior to your procedure.

  • Nothing to eat or drink and no mints or gum 8 hours prior to your procedure.

  • Please bring with you a list of medications (include name, strength, and dosage) you are currently taking.

  • Please bring with you a list of any surgeries you have had.

  • Patients who are on insulin do not take insulin on day of your procedure until after procedure has been performed.

  • Please notify us if you are currently taking the following medications and inform us as to why you are prescribed these medicines. We will advise you to discontinue or make adjustments to these medications or ask you to consult with your primary care physician or cardiologist prior to your procedure.
    • Plavix (Clopidogrel)
    • Effient (Prasugrel)
    • Brilinta (Ticagrelor)
    • Ticlid (Ticlodipine)
    • Coumadin (Warfarin)
    • Eliquis (Apixiban)
    • Aggrenox (Aspirin/dipyridamole)
    • Pradaxa (Dabigatran)
    • Persantine (Dipyridamole)
    • Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) 
  • You will need to have someone bring you and drive you home. They will need to remain in the Endoscopy department at all times until the procedure has been completed.  Patients will not be allowed to leave the facility alone.

  • You are not to drive, operate any machinery or make legal decisions the remainder of the day/evening following your procedure.

  • Once you return home someone will need to stay with you for at least 4 hours.

If you are unable to arrive on time for your procedure, please contact the appropriate Endoscopy department: Norton Women's and Kosair Children's Hospital (502) 893-1277; Norton Brownsboro Hospital (502) 446-8200.  

At home instructions after the ERCP

After the procedure, you will be observed until most of the effects of the sedation have worn off. You may experience some gas or bloating due to air introduced during the procedure. You cannot work or drive for the remainder of the day. Therefore, someone needs to take you home and stay with you for several hours after the procedure. You should contact your physician if you develop abdominal pain, vomiting or fever after the procedure.

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