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What is ERCP?

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a technique that combines the use of endoscopy and fluoroscopy to diagnose and treat certain problems of the biliary or pancreatic ductal systems. It is primarily performed by highly skilled and specialty trained gastroenterologists. Through the endoscope, the gastroenterologist can seethe opening of the bile duct (ampulla), and inject a contrast medium either into the biliary tree or pancreatic ductal system. The images will appear on real-time radiographs.

ERCP is used primarily to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts and main pancreatic duct, including gallstones, narrowing due to inflammation or tumor, leaks (from trauma and surgery), and cancer. Most ERCPs are done for therapeutic reasons. The development of safer and relatively non-invasive test such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography(MRCP) and endoscopic ultrasound decreased the use of ERCP for diagnostic purposed. ERCP is rarely performed without therapeutic intent.

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