ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) is used to diagnose and treat conditions in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, or pancreas. Conditions of the bile ducts can include gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks, and cancer. ERCP can be used when it is suspected a person’s bile or pancreatic ducts may be narrowed or blocked due to:
- Gallstones that form in the gallbladder and become stuck in the ducts
- Inflammation due to trauma or illness (such as pancreatitis)
- Improperly opening valves in the ducts
- Scarring of the ducts
- Pseudocysts (accumulations of fluid and tissue debris)
The procedure combines the use of X-rays and an endoscope to allow the physician to see the inside of the stomach. A dye is injected into the ducts of the biliary tree and pancreas so they will be visible on an X-ray. Tissue samples are sometimes taken during this procedure, and the physician can remove obstructions from the bile ducts.