Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

Treatment Duration

30 Minutes


90 Minutes

Treatment Cost

Rs 10,000


Rs 80,000

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): A Comprehensive Guide

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography, commonly known as ERCP, is a medical procedure used for diagnosing and treating conditions in the bile ducts and pancreas. This minimally invasive technique combines endoscopy and fluoroscopy to visualize and manage various gastrointestinal issues. ERCP plays a crucial role in identifying and addressing problems such as gallstones, blockages, infections, and tumors in the bile and pancreatic ducts.

What Is ERCP?

ERCP stands for Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography, a specialized medical procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and treat disorders of the bile ducts and pancreas. It combines endoscopy and fluoroscopy techniques, enabling the visualization of the bile ducts and pancreatic duct. ERCP can be both diagnostic and therapeutic, making it an invaluable tool in gastroenterology.

Who Needs ERCP?

1. Patients with Suspected Bile Duct or Pancreatic Duct Issues:

ERCP is often recommended for individuals experiencing symptoms such as abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), unexplained weight loss, or abnormal liver function tests. These symptoms may indicate problems in the bile or pancreatic ducts, necessitating further investigation.

2. Gallstones:

One common indication for ERCP is the presence of gallstones in the bile ducts. These stones can cause blockages, leading to severe pain and complications. ERCP allows for the removal of gallstones from the ducts.

3. Biliary Strictures:

Biliary strictures, or narrowing of the bile ducts, can occur due to various reasons, including inflammation, scarring, or tumors. ERCP can be used to dilate and treat these strictures.

4. Suspected Tumors:

When tumors or growths are suspected in the bile or pancreatic ducts, ERCP can be employed for both diagnosis and, in some cases, biopsy or removal of the tumor tissue.

5. Chronic Pancreatitis:

Patients with chronic pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas, may require ERCP to alleviate symptoms and drain pseudocysts that can develop.

How Is ERCP Performed?

ERCP is a well-established and minimally invasive procedure typically performed in a hospital or outpatient setting. Here's an overview of the steps involved:

1. Preparation: Before the procedure, patients are asked to fast for several hours to ensure an empty stomach. They are typically sedated to make them comfortable during the procedure.

2. Endoscopy: A flexible endoscope, a thin tube with a camera and light at the end, is inserted through the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).

3. Contrast Injection: A contrast dye is injected into the bile and pancreatic ducts to make them visible on X-ray images. This helps the doctor identify any abnormalities.

4. Imaging: Fluoroscopy, a real-time X-ray technique, is used to guide the endoscope into the correct position within the ducts. The doctor can then visualize the ducts and take X-ray images as needed.

5. Interventions: If any issues are detected, the doctor can perform various interventions during the procedure. This may include removing gallstones, placing stents to keep the ducts open, or taking biopsies for further evaluation.

6. Completion: Once the necessary steps have been completed, the endoscope is removed, and the patient is monitored in a recovery area.

What to Expect from ERCP?

After undergoing ERCP, patients can expect the following:

1. Recovery Time:

Most patients can go home on the same day as the procedure, although some may require an overnight stay for observation.

2. Mild Discomfort:

Some individuals may experience mild throat soreness or abdominal discomfort following ERCP, but these symptoms typically subside within a day or two.

3. Diet and Activity:

Patients are advised to follow a special diet for a short period and avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for a few days after the procedure.

4. Monitoring:

Patients will be closely monitored for any signs of complications, such as bleeding or infection.

5. Follow-Up:

Follow-up appointments with the doctor are essential to assess the success of the procedure and address any ongoing concerns.

Cost of ERCP in Top Indian Hospitals

The cost of ERCP in India can vary significantly depending on the hospital, city, and the specific interventions required. On average, the procedure can range from INR 20,000 to INR 60,000 or more. It is advisable to contact hospitals directly or consult with healthcare providers to get an accurate estimate of the cost.

Risks of Not Getting ERCP

Delaying or avoiding ERCP when it is medically indicated can lead to several risks:

1. Progression of Disease: Conditions such as bile duct stones, strictures, or tumors may worsen over time, leading to more severe symptoms and complications.

2. Infection: Blockages in the ducts can lead to infection, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

3. Liver Damage: Untreated bile duct issues can lead to liver damage and impaired liver function.

4. Pancreatic Complications: In cases of chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic pseudocysts, delaying treatment can result in ongoing pain and complications.

5. Reduced Treatment Options: For certain conditions, early intervention with ERCP can lead to more effective treatment and better outcomes.

Benefits of ERCP

ERCP offers numerous benefits to patients:

1. Minimally Invasive: ERCP is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning it involves smaller incisions and shorter recovery times compared to traditional surgery.

2. Accurate Diagnosis: It allows for accurate diagnosis of bile duct and pancreatic duct issues, helping doctors tailor treatment plans.

3. Therapeutic Options: ERCP can be both diagnostic and therapeutic, allowing for immediate intervention and treatment during the same procedure.

4. Symptom Relief: Many patients experience relief from symptoms such as abdominal pain and jaundice following ERCP.

5. Avoidance of Surgery: In some cases, ERCP can help patients avoid more invasive surgical procedures.


In conclusion, Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a valuable diagnostic and therapeutic procedure for individuals with bile duct and pancreatic duct issues. It offers numerous benefits, including minimally invasive treatment options and symptom relief. However, it is essential to discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare provider to determine if ERCP is the right course of action for your specific condition.


ERCP is typically not painful, as patients are sedated during the procedure. Some individuals may experience mild discomfort afterward.

The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour, but the duration can vary depending on the complexity of the case.

Yes, patients are usually advised to follow a clear liquid diet for a day or two after ERCP and gradually transition back to their regular diet.

While ERCP is generally safe, there are potential risks, including bleeding, infection, or pancreatitis. These risks are relatively low but should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

No, patients are typically not allowed to drive themselves home after ERCP, as sedation is used during the procedure.

Most patients can resume normal activities within a few days, but it's essential to follow your doctor's recommendations for a full recovery.

No, ERCP is a medical procedure used for diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal issues and is not intended for weight loss or cosmetic purposes.

ERCP is generally avoided during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the potential risks. The decision should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider.

Yes, ERCP can be performed on pediatric patients when necessary, and the procedure is adapted to suit their specific needs.

Patients are usually asked to fast for several hours before the procedure to ensure an empty stomach.

Meet our Doctor's