Endoscopic Techniques Overview of Ercp

What is ERPC?

ERPC stands for Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography and is one of the many endoscopic techniques used in detecting upper gastrointestinal structural problems through non invasive means. The procedure involves the passing of an endoscopy tube, which is a wire like structure with a channel to pass light as well as to pass instruments and fiber optic camera to visualize and manipulate structures within its path.

How is the procedure done?

Following few hours of fasting, a person will be sedated using injectable drugs and an anesthetic medication will be sprayed over the throat to minimize the irritation that the patient may feel. After this, the endoscope will be passed through the mouth of the patient and the patient will be asked to swallow the first portion of the scope which will not be that difficult because of its thin size and the flexibility. After which the endoscope will enter in to the esophagus and gradually will be introduced into the stomach and thereafter into the duodenum (here are duodenum functions).

The idea of the ERCP process is to visualize the common bile duct extending from the liver and is contributed to by the gallbladder and the pancreatic duct arising from the pancreas which opens into the duodenum by injecting a radio opaque dye in to these tubes. The injection of the dye is done through a side channel of the endoscope and because the injection is done as a retrograde injection against its usual flow, the procedure is also termed retrograde cholangiopancreatography. After injection, series of x-rays will be done and they will show the well demarcated ducts with any abnormalities such as strictures, tumors pressing on the duct, gallstones blocking the duct…etc.

Apart from the x-ray visualization, the procedure can also make use of different instruments passed through its channels to obtain a biopsy sample as well as to evacuate a gallstone which may be blocking the common bile duct.

Following completions of the procedure, which can take about 30 minutes to 1 hour, the endoscope will be pulled out and the patient can go home following recovering from the mild sedation that has taken place. But, these individuals should not drive themselves back home and it is best to take a rest for at least 24 hours after the procedure in order to avoid complications as well as to prevent any accidents that can take place because of the drowsiness.

What are the possible complications following ERCP?

Although the procedure usually does not cause any complications there is a rare possibility of developing lung infections, infections of the bile duct, pancreatic duct or small intestine due to injuries that may have occurred and in even rare instances perforation and bleeding if the injury is significant enough.