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ERCP Common Bile Duct - National Library of MedicineEndoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is an endoscopic procedure that examines the bile ducts utilizing the combination of upper endoscopy and x-ray. 


ERCP is used to treat problems of the pancreas or bile ducts that can cause abdominal pain and jaundice. ERCP may be used to:

  • Open the entry of the ducts into the bowel or drain blocked ducts
  • Stretch out narrow segments of the bile ducts
  • Remove or crush gallstones
  • Diagnose conditions such as biliary cirrhosis or sclerosing cholangitis
  • Biopsy the pancreas, bile ducts, or gallbladder

What to Expect

To begin, patients receive a local anesthetic, either gargled or sprayed on the back of the throat. A needle is then inserted into a vein in the arm if sedatives will be given. Doctors and other medical staff monitor vital signs while patients are sedated.


During ERCP, you may be instructed to lie on your back or side. Your digestive health provider inserts an endoscope down the esophagus, through the stomach and into the duodenum. Video is transmitted from a small camera attached to the endoscope. A tube (catheter) is then slid through the endoscopy and guided through the papillary opening. Your doctor will inject a dye into the ducts that allows them to be seen with x-ray, so your provider can identify any narrowed areas or blockages. 

Procedure Prep

In preparation for your procedure:

  • Arrange for a ride home, as ERCP involves sedation and you should not drive for the remainder of the day.
  • Do not eat or drink for 6 hours prior.

View complete ERCP prep instructions.




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Northeast Digestive Health Center
1070 Vinehaven Drive NE
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Phone: (704)783-1840
Fax: (704)783-1850
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