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Is an ERCP procedure safe?

ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) is a safe procedure. Serious complications are uncommon.

Potential complications include:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) occurs in approximately 5 percent of patients. If it occurs, pancreatitis is usually mild and manifests with abdominal pain and nausea. Symptoms typically resolve after a few days in the hospital. Rarely pancreatitis may be more severe.
  • Internal bleeding occurs in less than 1 % of patients. Bleeding may occur immediately and can be stopped quickly during the procedure. Other times bleeding is delayed and can happen during the days following the procedure. This delayed bleeding may require a repeat procedure to stop the bleeding.
  • Perforation or puncture of the intestine is a rare occurrence. If a perforation occurs surgical repair if often required.
  • Cholangitis (Infection of the bile ducts) is a rare occurrence.
  • Heart or lung complications are a rare occurrence.

 Signs that you may have had a complication:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • A firm, distended abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Fever or chills
  • Difficulty in swallowing or a severe sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Black tar-like stools

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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.