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ERCP Specialist

Digestive Disease Specialists

Gastroenterology Practice located in Moline, IL & Bettendorf, IA

Your physician may recommend an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to diagnose and treat conditions related to the gallbladder, pancreas, bile ducts, or liver. The gastroenterologists at Digestive Disease Specialists in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, might consider ERCP for unexplained abdominal pain, yellowing of your skin (jaundice), or suspected bile duct stones. They are only a few teams in their region that perform this minimally invasive procedure. Schedule your appointment today by calling the office requesting a visit online.


What is an ERCP?

An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a minimally invasive procedure that combines upper endoscopy with X-ray imaging to identify, and in some cases treat, issues that affect the digestive system.

A standard upper endoscopy provides your gastroenterologist with an inner view of the esophagus, stomach, and first portion of the small intestine (duodenum).

During an ERCP, fluorescein staining and X-ray imaging give your specialist a detailed view of how well the various tubes (ducts or vessels) transport digestive fluids from your pancreas, liver, and gallbladder to your small intestine.

This complex network of ducts is known as the biliary tree. Blockages or other abnormalities that disrupt flow through these vessels can create significant issues, including moderate to severe abdominal pain and infection.

Why would I need an ERCP?

Your provider at Digestive Disease Specialists may recommend an ERCP to diagnose or rule out conditions, such as:

  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Stones or other abnormalities in the bile ducts
  • Blockages or narrowing of the pancreatic ducts
  • Abnormal fluid leakage from the ducts
  • Infection in the ducts
  • Causes of jaundice (yellowing) of your eyes and skin
  • Pancreatic cysts

Your specialist may also perform an ERCP to gain additional information about previously diagnosed cancers of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or bile ducts.

What should I expect during an ERCP?  

An ERCP is typically an outpatient procedure performed under conscious sedation, meaning you are awake but heavily sedated during the study. This keeps you relaxed and often means you don’t remember much about what occurs during an ERCP.

Discomfort is minimal after the nurse establishes an intravenous (IV) line through which fluids and medications may be administered.

To start the study, your gastroenterologist passes a small flexible tube (endoscope) with a camera and light at the end into your mouth and throat and guides it through your esophagus and stomach to the small intestine.

Once he locates the bile and pancreatic ducts, your provider uses a small tube (catheter) passed through the endoscope to release dye that enhances vessels under study. He then captures a video of fluids flowing through the ducts using X-ray imaging. 

These images, also viewable in real-time on a nearby monitor, highlight abnormalities in the ducts. At this point, your specialist may decide to remove a stone trapped in a duct, establish a stent to open a narrowed duct, or perform another minor procedure.

For more information about ERCP or any of the services we offer, schedule an evaluation at Digestive Disease Specialists today. Call the office or request an appointment online.