What is an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) used for?

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An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) is 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.

ERCP can treat certain problems identified during the procedure. If an abnormal growth is seen, an instrument can be inserted through the endoscope to obtain a sample of the tissue for further testing (biopsy). If a gallstone is present in the common bile duct, the doctor can sometimes remove the stone with instruments inserted through the endoscope. A narrowed bile duct can be opened by inserting a small wire-mesh or plastic tube (called a stent) through the endoscope and into the duct.

ERCP is used for: (a) gallstones that are trapped in the main bile duct; (b) blockage of the bile duct; (c) jaundice, which turns the skin yellow and the urine dark; (d) cancer of the bile ducts or pancreas; e) pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); and (f) various other pancreato-hepatobiliary conditions that your referring doctor may recommend.

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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.