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Specialists in Gastroenterology

Board Certified Gastroenterologists located in St. Louis, MO

If you have abdominal pain or abnormal test results, you may need a special procedure called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to diagnose and treat the problem. At Specialists in Gastroenterology in St. Louis, Missouri, the board-certified gastroenterology experts use ERCP to diagnose and deal with serious problems in a minimally invasive way, with minimal downtime. Call the office or schedule an appointment online.


What is ERCP?

In an ERCP procedure, your provider examines and treats issues in your gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreatic ducts. Specialists in Gastroenterology may recommend ERCP if you have recurring abdominal pain or jaundice, but the reason is unclear. 

Your provider might also perform ERCP to gather additional information if you have pancreatitis, or liver, pancreatic, or bile duct cancer.

How does ERCP work?

Before your ERCP procedure begins, you receive a numbing medication and a sedative to keep you comfortable and relaxed. 

In this procedure, your provider advances a very thin tube through your mouth. This tube features a built-in light source and tiny camera that sends live images to a monitor nearby. 

Your provider also injects contrast dye through a catheter. The contrast dye goes into the ducts. Then, an X-ray highlights problem areas such as: 

  • Blockages
  • Tumors
  • Stones
  • Other duct issues 

If your provider discovers a problem, such as a gallstone, during the procedure, they can insert slim surgical instruments into the scope to remove it or perform other repairs. 

What should I do before my ERCP procedure?

You need an empty stomach for ERCP, so you're typically told to fast starting at midnight the night before your procedure. An empty stomach allows for optimal visualization, and it also minimizes the risk of complications like vomiting and aspiration during the procedure. 

Your provider may also temporarily adjust or stop your medication if you take blood thinners or certain other drugs, as they could potentially interfere with your results. 

Your Specialists in Gastroenterology provider helps you prepare by giving you detailed instructions ahead of time. 

What happens after ERCP?

After ERCP, you go into a recovery room. Medical professionals monitor your respiration, pulse, and blood pressure until you're fully awake. After that, your provider discharges you to the care of a loved one. 

You can't drive after ERCP because you may have lingering drowsiness from the sedative. Within a couple of hours, you'll typically be back to normal. You might have some minor throat soreness and swallowing discomfort for a day or two as well. 

You'll return to Specialists in Gastroenterology to discuss your procedure in detail with your specialist. At that point, they can explain your diagnosis and help you plan future treatment. 

Arrange your appointment at Specialists in Gastroenterology by phone or through the online booking tool.