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108 Drummond St Nth,
Ballarat VIC 3350
Phone: 03 5331 8289
Fax: 03 5331 2545
Email: appointments@specialistcentreballarat.com.au



ERCP, Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangeo Pancreatography, is a telescopic (Endoscopic) procedure used to inspect and operate on the Bile ducts and Pancreatic ducts. ERCP uses a combination of Endoscopic placement of instruments, and Xrays to visualise the Bile and Pancreatic Ducts.

Common reasons for performing an ERCP are to look for and remove Gallstones from the Bile Duct, or to manage narrowing ( Strictures) of the bile duct or panacreatic ducts. Strictures of the bile duct can occure for non cancerous ( Benign ) or cancerous ( Malignant ) reasons.

What is involved in an ERCP?

Prior to an ERCP you will need to have no solid food for 6 hours before the admission time. Water ( in moderation ) can be taken up to 2 hours before admission.

If you take blood thinning agents such as Warfarin, Pradaxa, Xarelto, Asasantin, Persantin, Plavix or  Clopidogrel, it is most likely that you will need to cease these prior to the procedure so you must discuss this with the Mr Lowe. Aspirin (Astrix, Cardiprin, Cartia) is usually ok to continue.

At the time of the procedure you will be made sleepy by an Anaesthetist who will monitor your heart and breathing during the procedure. This is not a General Anaesthetic, but most people do not remember anything of the procedure.

You will be helped into a position lying on your left side, almost on your front and Mr Lowe will then pass a special Endoscope through the mouth and stomach to the first part of the small intestine ( the duodenum ) where the bile and pancreatic ducts enter. Catheters and other instruments are then passed down the endoscope and into the Bile ducts or Pancreatic duct to perform the surgery needed.

Common procedures during an ERCP are:

Sphincterotomy, a cut to the muscle at the bottom of the bile duct to increase the size of the opening of the bile duct to enable stones to be pulled from the bile duct to the intestine.

Balloon or Basket extraction. Balloons or Baskets are used to pull stones through a Sphincterotomy into the intestine.

Stent. Stents are plastic tubes, or wire mesh tubes which are used to hold the bile duct open if it is being squashed closed but scarring or cancers.

After an ERCP.

Usually patients stay in hospital overnight following an ERCP as the complications of ERCP may take a few hours to show.


There are 3 serious complications of ERCP

Perforation: It is possible to put a hole in either the intestine or the bile duct, or the junction of the two, at an ERCP. If this were to happen you would become sick with significant abdominal pain from the time of the ERCP. It is likely that an operation ( or more than one ) would be needed to resolve the problem.

Pancreatitis: Manipulation of the entry point of the Bile and Pancreatic ducts can cause inflammation of the pancreas or Pancreatitis. This can vary from a mild illness with abdominal pain for a day or two to a very serious illness requiring care in the ICU and possibly operations to help recovery.

Bleeding: This can occur if a sphincterotomy is cut and will occasionally need an operation to place a stitch in the bleeding point.

Each or these complications occurs in about 2 patients in 100. (2%)