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endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ercp)

An Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a specialized technique used to study the ducts of the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver for possible disease.

During the procedure, an endoscope (a thin flexible tube that allows your physician to see your bowel) is passed through the mouth, esophagus and stomach into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). After the openings to these ducts from the liver and pancreas are identified, a narrow plastic tube is passed through the endoscope into the duct. Then, a contrast material is injected into the ducts and X-rays are taken.

Not only a diagnostic tool, an ERCP can also treat several conditions of the biliary or pancreatic ducts. An ERCP may be used to open the end of a bile duct, extract stones and place stents (plastic drainage tubes) across obstructed ducts to improve the drainage.

Information adapted from the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

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