Endoscopic Retrogade Cholangiopancreatography (ECRP)

Endoscopic Retrogade Cholangiopancreatography (ECRP)

ERCP stands for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. As hard as this say, the idea behind the exam is fairly simple. A dye is injected into the bile and pancreatic ducts using a flexible, video endoscope. Then x-rays are taken to outline the bile duct and pancreas.


The only preparation needed before an ERCP is nothing to eat or drink for six hours prior to the procedure. You may be asked to stop certain medications such as aspirin or other blood thinners before the procedure. Check with the physician.

Reasons for the Exam

Due to factors related to diet, environment and heredity, the bile ducts, gallbladder, and pancreas are the seat of numerous disorders. These can develop into a variety of diseases and/or symptoms. ERCP helps in diagnosing and treating conditions, ERCP may be used for:

  • Gallstones, which are trapped in the main bile duct.
  • Blockage of the bile duct.
  • To evaluate yellow jaundice, which turns the skin yellow and the urine dark.v
  • Cancer of the bile ducts or pancreas
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Infections of the bile ducts
  • Leaks of the bile duct or pancreatic duct.


An ERCP is performed primarily to identify and/or correct a problem and the bile ducts or pancreas. This means the test enables a diagnosis to be made upon which specific treatment can be given. If a gallstone is found during the exam, it can often be removed, eliminating the need for major surgery. If a blockage in the bile duct causes yellow jaundice or pain, it can be relieved.

Side Effects and Risks

A temporary, mild sore throat sometimes occurs after the exam. Serious risks with the ERCP procedure are relatively uncommon. One such risk is pancreatitis.

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