Your physician will give you precise instructions about how to prepare. Generally, in order to prepare for the ERCP, the patient will be advised to not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure, or 6 to 8 hours prior to, depending on the time of your procedure. A small amount of liquid may be taken in order to swallow any essential medications. It is imperative that you discuss any allergies, the possibility of being pregnant or general health problems (e.g., diabetes, heart, lung, kidney, or bleeding problems). These can greatly affect your response to the ERCP and its treatments. This will assist the physician in taking the necessary precautions in order to decrease the likelihood of any dangerous reactions.
The physician will advise you what, if any, medications you should avoid. Medications that generally should be avoided or would require dosage or time-adjusting include Metformin (glucophage) to control diabetes, insulin, anticoagulants such as Coumadin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antacids and aspirin.
All allergies should be reported to the physician; however, allergies that will affect the ERCP would include that of iodine or shellfish, since the contrast dye used during the procedure contains iodine.
When you arrive for the procedure the physician or nurse will speak to you and give you information about the procedure, do a brief consultation, if not previously done, and answer questions and address any concerns regarding the ERCP. At this point you will be asked to sign an informed consent form, which states that you understand and agree to proceed with the procedure.
Once you are in the procedure room you will be asked to remove any dentures, eyeglasses, contact lenses or hearing aids. A local anesthetic medicine may be sprayed onto the back of your throat for numbing purposes. An IV line will be placed to administer the sedative medicine (e.g., Droperidol, Valium, Versed or Demerol). This will help you to relax and make you sleepy. Some patients require complete anesthesia; however, this is rare. Fluids may also be administered through the IV to prevent you from slight dehydration.
After the procedure, you will not be allowed to drive due to the sedative medicine used; therefore, you must arrange for someone to take you home. If further observation is deemed necessary following the ERCP or in the unlikelihood of complications you may need to be admitted into the hospital. Complications are uncommon, however, they can occur.