Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure oftentimes used by gastroenterologists to look for issues in a few areas like the gallbladder, pancreas and bile ducts. Dr. Bhatti has performed this procedure on countless occasions, and not only does it help to diagnose a problem, but it also sets the course by which a treatment plan can be developed. Below, we take a closer look at why and how an ERCP is performed.
What Can An ERCP Detect?
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography can help identify a number of different issues in a few organs in the body. As we mentioned above, the pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts are often the areas being targeted. Through the procedure, an ERCP can help to identify the following conditions:
- Bile duct blockage
- Pancreatic or Gallbladder cancer
Once the problem has been identified, your surgeon can chart a course for treatment and recovery, making an ERCP an invaluable diagnostic option for gastrointestinal specialists and their patients.
How Is An ERCP Performed?
Your surgeon will walk you through all of this during your preoperative consultation, but here’s a general look at the days leading up to the operation and how the procedure is performed.
You may need to adjust your medication regimen a week before surgery, so talk with your surgeon about any medications you are taking. A day before the procedure, you’ll need to stop eating all solid foods no later than midnight. Clear liquids are acceptable, as is clear broth, tea and carbonated soft drinks. You are to avoid solid foods, red or purple drinks, alcohol, milk, juice with pulp and noodles or vegetables in any soups you wish to consume. On the day of the procedure, you’ll be asked to stop drinking clear liquids six hours prior to your exam.
When you are ready for the procedure, your throat will be numbed with anesthetic spray before a small thin tube called an endoscope is inserted. This tube is then maneuvered until it reaches your duodenum. Air is then released by the endoscope so that the organs can be more easily viewed by the camera on the endoscope that is relaying a live feed to a monitor in the operating room. A catheter is inserted alongside the endoscope, which releases a special dye into the area.
Next, a fluoroscopy (live x-ray) is performed, and the special dye that was injected helps to highlight how fluid is or isn’t moving through your pancreas or gallbladder. This allows the gastroenterologist to spot signs of a blockage. Instrumentation may also be inserted through the endoscope in the event that tissue needs to be biopsied. Once satisfied that your issue has been identified, the surgeon quickly and safely removes the catheter and the endoscope and you are discharged to a recovery room. A short while later, your doctor will review the results of the fluoroscopy and discuss the next steps in your treatment.
It’s a straightforward procedure, but you will need someone else to drive you home once you’ve been cleared, so make sure you have that squared away before the day of your operation.
For more information, or to talk to a specialist about your intestinal issues, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and his team today.