Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) is a test that combines the use of a flexible, lighted scope with X-ray pictures to examine the tubes that drain the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and gently moved down the throat into the esophagus, stomach, and beginning of the small intestine until it reaches the point where the ducts from the pancreas and gallbladder drain into the small intestine.
ERCP can treat certain problems found during the test. If an abnormal growth is seen, an instrument can be inserted through the endoscope to obtain a sample of the tissue for further testing. If a gallstone is present in the common bile duct, the doctor can sometimes remove the stone with instruments inserted through the endoscope. A narrowed bile duct can be opened by inserting a small wire-mesh or plastic tube, called a stent, through the endoscope and into the duct.
ERCP is done to:
- Check persistent abdominal pain or jaundice.
- Find gallstones or diseases of the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.
- Remove gallstones from the common bile duct if they are causing a problem such as blockage, inflammation or infection of the common bile duct, or pancreatitis.
- Open a narrowed bile duct or insert a drain.
- Get a tissue sample for further testing.
- Measure the pressure inside the bile ducts (manometry).