What is ERCP?
ERCP stands for Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography ("en-doh-SKAH-pik REH troh-grayd koh-LAN-jee-oh-PANG-kree-uh-TAH-gruh-fee"). ERCP enables the physician to study and diagnose problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas while using a device called an endoscope. The procedure is a combined endoscopic and radiologic procedure.
ERCP is most commonly used to diagnose and treat various conditions of the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas. It is often used to assess abnormal results of blood tests or imaging tests such as ultrasound or CT scan. It is also useful in the evaluation of symptoms that may be suggestive of diseases in these organs.
The most common reasons to undergo this type of endoscopic procedure include undiagnosed upper-abdominal pain, pancreatitis, jaundice, or weight loss. ERCP is also effective in treating and diagnosing blockage of the bile and pancreatic ducts, due to stones and benign and malignant obstructions ("strictures"). ERCP is also useful before or after gallbladder surgery to treat stones, bile duct complication from surgery and to evaluate ongoing or returned abdominal pain after surgery. For patients with known or suspected pancreatic disease, ERCP may offer a non operative approach to therapy or aid in determining the need for surgery or the most beneficial type of surgical procedure to be performed.