Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is used mostly to treat problems of the pancreas or bile ducts. These problems can cause abdominal pain (usually in the right upper or middle stomach area) and jaundice, yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Our team of physicians specializes in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography testing to diagnose:

  • Bile duct stones, tumors, cysts and infections
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis

An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography may be used to:

  • Open the entry of the ducts into the bowel (sphincterotomy)
  • Stretch out narrow segments (bile duct strictures)
  • Remove or crush gallstones
  • Take tissue samples to diagnose:
    • Tumors of the pancreas, bile ducts or gallbladder
    • Conditions called biliary cirrhosis, a disease in which the bile ducts in your liver are slowly destroyed
    • Drain blocked areas

How it's performed

An IV line is placed in your arm. You'll lie on your stomach or left side. Medication to relax or sedate you is given intravenously. You should not feel any discomfort and may have little or no memory of the test.

Sometimes your doctor will use a spray to numb your throat. A mouthguard will protect your teeth. After the sedative takes effect, the endoscope is inserted through your mouth, esophagus and stomach until it reaches your duodenum, the part of the small intestine closest to your stomach.

Once the scope is in place, some stretching of the stomach and duodenum will occur.

A catheter (thin tube) is passed through the endoscope and inserted into the ducts leading to your pancreas and gallbladder. A special dye is injected into these ducts, and X-rays are taken, which help your doctor see stones, tumors and any areas that have become narrowed.

Special instruments can be placed through the endoscope and into the ducts.

After the procedure

The air used to inflate your stomach and bowel during an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedure can cause some bloating or gas for about 24 hours. After the procedure, you may have a sore throat for the first day or up to three to four days.

Most often, you'll want to drink fluids and eat only a light meal on the day after.

Specialized and personalized care

At HonorHealth, our team of gastroenterologists are experts in managing acute and chronic complex gastrointestinal disorders. They have performed thousands of procedures with outcomes that meet or surpass national benchmarks for quality in endoscopy. Their goal is to offer you the best care and highest-quality clinical outcomes.

Find a location

Find a convenient HonorHealth Interventional Endoscopy office in Scottsdale or Peoria.