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Endoscopic retrograde cholangio pancreatography (ERCP)


At Mater Health Services we understand that being in hospital can be a very stressful experience. This booklet aims to alleviate some of your concerns in keeping with our Mission to offer compassionate, quality care that promotes dignity while responding to patients’ needs. It explains briefly the events that may occur during your visit and the things to expect when you are discharged from the hospital.

It is, however, only a guideline as each person may require differing treatments.

If you have any questions about your treatment please ask your doctor or nurse.

Our pastoral care team offers a caring support network to all patients. The dedicated members of this team will visit you during your stay and are available at your request to discuss any anxieties or problems that you may have.

What is an ERCP?

imgAs hard as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is to say, the actual exam is fairly simple. A  dye is injected into the bile and pancreatic ducts using a thin flexible tube with a camera attached. X-rays are taken then to outline the bile ducts and pancreas.

ERCP is used for

  • gallstones, which are trapped in the main bile duct
  • blockage of the bile duct
  • yellow jaundice, which turns the skin yellow and the urine dark
  • undiagnosed upper-abdominal pain
  • cancer of the bile duct or pancreas
  • pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Prior to your procedure

Please confirm your booking five days prior to procedure. Phone: 07 3163 8183 (Monday to Friday between 8.30 am and 4 pm).

Discuss the following with your doctor:

  • whether you should stop any of your usual medications before the procedure (Aspirin, iron, diabetic medications and anti-inflammatory medications) any drug allergies you may have whether you have any ––major diseases such as a heart or lung condition, diabetes or epilepsy that may require special attention during the procedure.
  • Your doctor may arrange a series of blood tests before the day of your procedure and you may also require an injection of Vitamin K.
  • Arrange for a responsible adult to accompany you home. Please bring their contact details with you to hospital we do not have waiting areas for relatives and friends in the unit).

On the day of your procedure please bring your

  • Medicare Card
  • completed registration form
  • medications that you may need to take after your procedure (e.g aspirin, iron, diabetic medications, anti-inflammatory medications).

Please do not bring any valuables or wear any jewellery when you come to hospital.

On arrival to Mater Hospital Brisbane report to the admissions desk on level five, Day Procedure Unit.

What to expect during your ERCP?

An ERCP uses x-ray films and is performed in an x-ray room. Your throat will be anaesthetised with a spray or solution and you will be mildly sedated. The endoscope is then gently inserted into the upper oesophagus. You will breathe easily through this examination. A thin tube is inserted through the endoscope to the main bile duct entering the duodenum. Dye is then injected into this bile duct and/or the pancreatic duct and x-ray films are taken. The procedure can last between 15 and 60 minutes.

After your procedure

After the test you will be monitored in the Gastroenterology Unit where you will be observed for four hours. If you have had an afternoon procedure you will remain in hospital overnight. You may:

  • experience temporary, mild sore throat which sometimes occurs after the examination
  • burp up any air remaining in your stomach
  • feel drowsy or dizzy after the medications.

Your results will be discussed with you at your follow-up appointment. This appointment will be made for you by the nursing staff.

You must continue to have clear fluids overnight and then you will be able to resume your normal diet the next day.

Because a sedative is used for this procedure

  • You must arrange for someone to take you home. They will need to collect you from the Day Procedure Unit, Level 5, Mater Hospital Brisbane.
  • You are required to stay in hospital usually overnight before you are discharged.
  • You are required, by law, not to drive a vehicle (including bikes, motor bikes), operate machinery or sign legal contracts for a minimum of 24 hours.


Please contact either your general practitioner (GP), Mater Hospital Brisbane Procedure Unit on 07 3163 8324, or Mater Hospital Brisbane Emergency Department on telephone 07 3163 8111 IMMEDIATELY if you experience any pain, fever or vomiting in the 24 hours after ERCP.

Mater Hospital Brisbane

Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane Q 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111


Staff at Mater Hospital Brisbane, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane Q 4101

© 2010 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420015
Last modified 17/3/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 11/8/2015
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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