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If your consultant finds a problem, they may be able to treat it during the procedure.

What happens during my ERCP?

An ERCP usually takes between half an hour and three-quarters of an hour. You may be given a sedative to help you relax. You may also have an IV drip to ensure you have enough fluids and administer antibiotics if necessary. Your consultant will spray local anaesthetic in the back of your throat meaning this area will be numb throughout the procedure. 

Once the anaesthetic has taken affect your consultant will pass the endoscope into the back of your throat and down into your stomach. From here the endoscope will pass on into your duodenum.

The endoscope is then positioned to look at the papilla. A fine tube is placed through the endoscope and into the bile duct or pancreatic duct through the papilla. A colourless fluid (called a contrast agent) is injected into the ducts and x-ray pictures are taken that show the ducts. 

If there are gallstones in the bile duct, they can usually be removed. Your consultant can insert a tube called a stent to relieve jaundice caused by large gallstones or a narrowing of the bile duct.

After your ERCP

If you are given a sedative, you will normally recover in about an hour. You may feel a bit bloated for a few hours but this will pass. You should be able to go home the same day of the procedure but please have someone drive you once you are discharged. 

A member of the team will tell you what was found during the ERCP and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need. 

You may develop a sore throat or dry mouth and slight hoarseness. Throat lozenges and saltwater gargles can ease these symptoms.

You should be able to go back to work two days after the ERCP. 

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following ERCP.

Specific complications of ERCP:

  • Infection of the bile duct (cholangitis)
  • Making a hole in the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum 
  • Bleeding 
  • Damage to teeth or bridgework 
  • Allergic reaction
  • Breathing difficulties or heart irregularities 
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) 
  • Incomplete procedure

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your consultant?

Find your nearest hospital that provides this test

67 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1RW

01202 291866
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Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8EH

01277 695695
Overall rating Good
Cardiff and Vale  

Cardiff Bay Hospital, Dunleavy Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN

02920 836700

Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QP

01244 680 444
Overall rating Good

78 Broyle Road, Chichester, PO19 6WB

01243 530600
Overall rating Good

Rykneld Road, Derby, DE23 4SN

01332 540100
Overall rating Good

Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG

01392 276 591
Overall rating Good

Stirling Road, Guildford, GU2 7RF

01483 555 800
Overall rating Good

Foxhall Road, Ipswich, IP4 5SW

01473 279100
Overall rating Good

2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB

0113 388 2111
Overall rating Outstanding
Newcastle upon Tyne  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 1JP

01912 816 131
Overall rating Good

Beech Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7RP

01865 307777
Overall rating Good

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775 861
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Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, TA2 6AN

01823 286 991
Overall rating Good

The Chase, Old Milverton Lane, Leamington Spa, CV32 6RW

01926 427971
Overall rating Good

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