What Is ERCP?


If you suffer from medical issues surrounding your bile and pancreatic ducts, you may have heard about endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Licensed physicians perform ERCP to treat these issues using upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and X-rays. The combination of these two medical treatments works to help alleviate and treat your symptoms.

How Do I Find Out If I Need ERCP?

Your doctor will tell you if they are referring you for ERCP. You should only listen to a licensed physician (not family or friends) when seeking medical advice. Your doctor will use a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to diagnose and treat you.

For example, they may have administered a magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) to determine if you have blockage in your ducts. These techniques are noninvasive. You will simply be assessed. Once the images return, the doctor will review them and determine if ERCP is a good fit.

What If I Am Currently on Medication?

If you are currently prescribed medication or taking over the counter medications, you should make your physician aware. Your physician will advise you whether or not these medications can interfere poorly with treatment.

ERCP is an invasive procedure. Over the counter and prescription medications such as the following can interfere with treatment:

  • Blood thinners
  • Diabetes medications
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • NSAIDs
  • Arthritis medications
  • Blood pressure medications

You may think it is not a big deal to mention you are taking a low dose aspirin to help your blood pressure, but it is always best to provide your doctor with a thorough list of medications, even if you feel it is not relevant. During these invasive procedures, even small doses of specific medicines can cause harmful and deadly results. Whether you are taking over-the-counter medications or prescription medications, you should always inform the physician.

What Is ERCP Most Commonly Used to Treat?

ERCP is used to treat narrowing or blocking of your pancreatic and bile ducts. Therefore, it is most commonly used to treat any conditions leading to these diagnosis such as:

  • Tumours and cancers of the pancreas
  • Tumours and cancers of the bile ducts
  • Gallstones
  • Chronic and acute pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic pseudocysts
  • Surgical complications
  • Trauma to the ducts
  • Infection

Your primary care physician (PCP) or specialist will have assessed you prior to referring you for ERCP. They use the MRI technology to assess your internal ducts to look for cancer, tumours, cysts, trauma, and stones. Once they have seen the results from the images, they will then refer you for ERCP.

It is important to follow all of your doctors orders to prepare for this treatment. They may suggest you do not eat for a specific time period before surgery. They will also give you clear instructions on what recovery looks like, and what the best diet is post-surgery.


Hailen Kazz
the authorHailen Kazz