Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, also known as ERCP, is a diagnostic procedure performed to detect abnormalities in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and bile ducts. ERCP combines the use of an endoscope with X-rays to obtain a detailed view of the region. Performed through an endoscope (a lighted tube snaked down the esophagus), the ERCP is used to treat obstructions of the bile ducts, including stones, tumors, or strictures (narrowed passageways).

How an ERCP is performed?

It is important that the physician take a medical history before the procedure to assess any pre-existing health conditions. If the doctor considers it safe, certain medications, such as blood thinners, may be discontinued temporarily. Patients have to fast for at least 8 hours before undergoing ERCP. Prior to the procedure, diagnostic imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT or MRI scans are administered to help the surgeon pinpoint, as closely as possible, the particular location of the trouble spot. Wherever possible ERCP is not performed on pregnant women except in emergency situations.