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What is ERCP?

An ERCP is used to diagnose problems associated with the biliary and pancreatic ductal systems.

ERCP combines the use of X-rays and a duodenoscope, which is a long, lighted tube with a camera built into it. The physician can see the inside the stomach and duodenum, and can inject dye into the ducts of the biliary tree and pancreatic ducts so they can be seen on X-ray.

How the procedure works

  • During the procedure you will be given general anesthesia. 
  • After you are asleep, you will be positioned on your left side almost completely on your stomach.
  • The “scope” is passed through your mouth, down your esophagus and through your stomach into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).
  • A small, plastic catheter is passed through the scope into the biliary ducts. Dye is injected through this small catheter for X-ray viewing. 
  • If the exam shows gallstones or a narrowing of the ducts, the physician can insert instruments through the scope to remove or relieve the obstruction. If necessary, a stent can be left in place to keep a duct open. Also, tissue samples (biopsies or brushings) can be taken and sent to the lab for testing. 
  • An ERCP can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more.

Why do doctors use ERCP?

This procedure allows the doctor to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts, including gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks (from trauma or surgery), and cancer. 

If you have any questions about DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital endoscopy services, please call 313-966-6969. For questions about DMC Lahser Ambulatory Center endoscopy services, call 248-359-5575.