How should I prepare for an ERCP procedure?

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Here's a synopsis of the key things that you should do to prepare for your endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP), a procedure that combines the use of a flexible, lighted scope (endoscope) with x-ray pictures to examine the tubes that drain the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas:
  1. Call your insurance company and ask if the ERCP is covered for the reason given by your doctor.
  2. Ask your insurance company if you need a referral for the ERCP. If they say "yes," then you MUST get a referral from your primary care physician.
  3. Update your insurance registration.
  4. Make plans for someone to come with you to the hospital.
  5. If you take Coumadin, Plavix or other blood thinners, please talk to the doctor who prescribed it.
  6. If you are diabetic, please speak with your doctor about how to take your medication in order to prevent low blood sugar.
  7. If you have a contrast allergy, please notify your provider two days prior to the procedure.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography, or ERCP, is a specialized technique used to study the bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder.

You should fast for at least six hours (and preferably overnight) before the ERCP procedure to make sure you have an empty stomach, which is necessary for the best examination. Your doctor will give you precise instructions about how to prepare. You should talk to your doctor about medications you take regularly and any allergies you have to medications or to intravenous contrast material (dye). Although an allergy doesn't prevent you from having ERCP, it's important to discuss it with your doctor prior to the procedure, as you may require specific allergy medications before the ERCP. Inform your doctor about medications you're taking, particularly aspirin products, arthritis medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners, such as warfarin or heparin), clopidogrel or insulin. Also, be sure to tell your doctor if you have heart or lung conditions or other major diseases which might prevent or impact the decision to conduct endoscopy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.