What Happens During the Procedure?
During an ERCP, you will be positioned on an X-ray table in a way that allows the endoscope to be comfortably inserted via your mouth. If you need sedation, it’s usually delivered through an intravenous (IV) line. Numbing medicine is used to prevent gagging and keep you from swallowing as the procedure is performed. However, your saliva will be suctioned out of your mouth.
The endoscope is inserted into an area known as the biliary tree, a system of vessels that allows secretions to travel from the pancreas and other structures in the same area to other parts of the body by way of a series of ducts. A contrast dye is inserted into the ducts through a tube that’s fed through the endoscope. A series of X-rays will then be taken. You may be asked to shift your position when this happens.
The tube for the contrast dye will be repositioned after the X-rays are taken so dye can be injected into the pancreatic duct. X-rays are once again taken. Tissue or fluid samples are sometimes collected as well. If a blockage is detected that’s affecting the pancreas, it may be removed while the endoscope is still in place. It also may be possible to make other repairs to affected ducts with endoscopic techniques.
What Happens After an ERCP?
In some cases, pancreas surgery is scheduled for another time if it’s discovered that diseased tissue needs to be removed and it’s not possible to do so with the endoscope. One option is what’s known as the Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy). When the ERCP procedure is over, you’ll be able to eat and drink again once your gag reflexes return.
Controlling underlying conditions like diabetes, not smoking, seeking immediate treatment for gallstones, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption are some of the ways you may be able to prevent pancreatic disease from developing. You may also be at risk for developing problems with your pancreas if you have cystic fibrosis or a family history of pancreatitis.