ERCP or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a specialized procedure to evaluate for abnormalities of biliary and pancreatic ductal system. A dye is injected into the bile and/or pancreatic ducts using a flexible, fiber-optic endoscope. Then X-rays are taken to outline the bile ducts and pancreas.
The liver produces bile which flows through the bile ducts, passes or fills the gallbladder, and then enters the intestine (duodenum) just past the stomach. The pancreas, which is six inches long, sits behind the stomach. It secretes digestive enzymes that flow into the intestine through the same opening as the bile. Both bile and pancreatic enzymes are needed to digest food.
The bile ducts, gallbladder and pancreas are involved in numerous disorders. ERCP helps in diagnosing and often in treating these conditions.