An ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, is most commonly performed to treat blockages of the common bile duct, the main duct that drains bile from the liver and gallbladder. A common source of blockages includes gallstones and bile sludge.
After monitored anesthesia care (MAC) or IV (intravenous) sedation is administered, a thin, flexible tube, or endoscope, is inserted through the mouth and advanced passed the esophagus and stomach and into the first portion of the small intestine, the duodenum, where the opening of the common bile duct is located (called the papilla). A guide-wire is typically inserted into the common bile duct to gain access to this area. Using various catheters, as well as contrast and x-rays, blockages are located and treated. A temporary or permanent stent (tube) may be inserted into the common bile duct at the end of the procedure to maintain the common bile duct open.
You must not eat for at least 8 hours prior to your procedure. Your doctor may also ask that you refrain from taking certain medications prior to your procedure, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-platelet agents, warfarin (Coumadin), or other blood thinners.