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Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

What is ERCP?

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a form of imaging that lets doctors examine the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, stomach, duodenum (the upper intestine) and pancreas.

The procedure combines x-ray imaging with endoscopic imaging. Doctors insert the endoscope (a long, thin, flexible tube with a small light) through the mouth. They can use the endoscope to look inside the body and to inject dyes into the bile ducts and pancreas to make the organs visible on x-rays. Instruments can also be threaded into the endoscope to remove gallstones or other obstructions, or to remove a tissue sample that can be examined under a microscope.

Who needs it?

ERCP may be recommended if you have jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes), unexplained abdominal pain, or blood test results that suggest problems with the liver or pancreas. The test can uncover conditions such as gallstones, scars on digestive organs, cancer or internal bleeding from trauma or surgery. In some cases, ERCP can also help treat these problems.

An ERCP must be ordered by a physician.