Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, is a specialized technique used to study the ducts, or drainage channels, of the gallbladder, liver and pancreas.  It involves the doctor passing a flexible tube (endoscope) through your mouth, esophagus, and stomach into the duodenum , or first portion of the small intestine and must be performed at a hospital (in our case, St. Vincent’s Medical Center).  The doctor then guides a narrow plastic tube through the endoscope and into the ducts.  Contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken.  Patients prepare by being NPO (nothing by mouth) for 6-8 hours prior.  They often receive antibiotics prior the test, and are then sedated.  See ‘Therapeutic ERCP’ for various interventions that can be done during the procedure.  ERCP is well-tolerated when performed by Dr. Mauer, who is specially trained and very experienced.  Complications, which are rare, include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), infections, bowel perforation, and bleeding.  These potential complications will be discussed with you at length by either Dr. Mauer or one of the other doctors at Gastroenterology Associates prior to the procedure.

For more information, please refer to the ASGE (American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy) website.