ERCP -->
endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
medical dictionary


<radiology> A diagnostic-therapeutic procedure that involves the X-ray of the pancreatic duct and biliary tree after the selective introduction of a contrast material into the common bile duct and pancreatic duct.

In this procedure, a flexible endoscope is passed through the mouth and down into the duodenum. A catheter is then passed through the endoscope and inserted into the pancreatic and bile ducts. It is uncomfortable but not painful, is performed under intravenous sedation, usually without general anaesthesia, and has a low incidence of complications.

A contrast agent is injected into the catheter which highlights the coarse and calibre of the ducts. Narrowing, stones or ductal tumours can be identified with this procedure.

Therapeutic measures can often be take at the time of ERCP to remove stones in the bile ducts or to relieve obstructions of the bile ducts, so that traditional open surgeries can be avoided. ERCP is increasingly accepted as the diagnostic and therapeutic procedure of choice in identifying and removing gallstones in the bile ducts.

Acronym: ERCP

(12 Dec 1998)