ERCP is a test using an x-ray to look into the bile and pancreatic ducts. The doctor inserts an endoscope through the mouth into the duodenum and bile ducts. Dye is sent through the tube into the ducts. This allows the ducts to show up on an x-ray.

An ERCP is used to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts, including gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks (from trauma and surgery), and cancer. Because you will be sedated, you will need someone to drive you home from the hospital. This is a procedure that is not currently offered in our Center, but can be done by our physicians at the hospital.

Preparing for the Procedure

Your Charleston Gastroenterology Center nurse or doctor will provide you with preparation instructions before the examination.

What to Expect

To make you more comfortable, a local anesthetic may be applied to your throat or a sedative might be administered. Your doctor will pass the endoscope through your mouth, esophagus, stomach and into the duodenum. The procedure will not interfere with your breathing. Because of the air introduced through the instrument, you might feel a bloating sensation.


Patients are observed after the procedure until most of the effects of the medications have worn off. Bloating or passing of gas may be experienced due to the air introduced during the examination. Unless you are instructed otherwise, you can resume your usual diet.

Don’t forget that someone must drive you home because of the sedatives used during the examination. Even if you feel alert, the sedatives can affect your judgment and reflexes for the remainder of the day.