2016-06-16 18:11:45 UTC

ERCP 104: During

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Before Your ERCP

Your doctor will tell you more specifically what you can expect during the test. Some things may include:

  • A nurse will review your medical history, medications and allergies. 
  • You will change into a hospital gown. 
  • An intravenous (IV) line will be started to give you fluids and medicine to make you feel sleepy during the exam. 
  • Your doctor will review the consent form for the test, answer any of your questions and ask you to sign the form, which says you understand the test being done.

During Your ERCP




  • The doctor will use an endoscope (a long, thin [about the width of your little finger], flexible tube with a tiny camera and light on the end) to be able to see inside.
  • The endoscope will not block your breathing.


  • You will be given medicine to block pain and make you relaxed and sleepy, so you won’t feel much during the ERCP. 
  • During the test, everything will be done to make sure that you are at ease, safe and comfortable. You may feel full during the test, since air may be put in to help move the scope.
  • Your blood pressure, pulse and the oxygen level in your blood will be monitored during the test. 
  • You may have the back of your throat sprayed with something to numb it to lessen discomfort of the endoscope.
  • A plastic bite block may be placed between your teeth (to protect your teeth and the endoscope). 
  • Once you are fully relaxed, the endoscope will be carefully passed through your mouth, into your esophagus (tube that links your mouth and your stomach) and into your stomach and duodenum, the first section of your small intestine. 
  • In some cases, the doctor may need to do a biopsy (taking a small piece of tissue to look at under a microscope). You will not feel this. 
  • In the duodenum, a smaller tube is put down through the endoscope and can be led into either the pancreatic or common bile duct (based on where your issue is). This smaller tube puts a special dye into the ducts.
  • X-ray machines are then used to take pictures of the dye lighting up the ducts. This way, widening, narrowing or a block of the ducts can be seen.
  • Some of the problems that may be seen during an ERCP can also be treated at the same time. 
    • If a stone is causing a block, your doctor is often able to remove it.
    • Your doctor may do a sphincterotomy, which opens the entry of the ducts into the bowel.
    • A small camera may be passed into the bile or pancreatic duct to visualize and photograph stones, strictures or tumors, and to facilitate biopsies or break up large stones.
    • A stent (small, plastic or metallic, mesh tube) can be put in your ducts if they are obstructed or constricted.
  • After the doctor is done looking inside, the endoscope will be removed, and you will wake up in recovery as the medicine wears off. 
ERCP - What to Know:
  • ERCP can help with finding the cause of jaundice (when your skin and/or the whites of your eyes turn yellow) or pancreatitis, swelling of your pancreas.
  • ERCP is used to look at your pancreas and pancreatic duct, bile duct system, gallbladder, and duodenum (part of your small intestine).
  • ERCP can be used to look for and treat health issues in the GI tract.


© AGA, September 2017

©AGA, July 2016

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