Getting Ready for ERCP
What is ERCP?
ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) is a test used to look at your bile duct
and/or pancreatic duct. It can help to diagnose problems of the pancreas, bile ducts, liver, and
gall bladder. During this exam a tube is passed through your mouth, esophagus (food tube),
stomach, and the first part of the small bowel. A small plastic tube is then threaded into the
ducts, dye is injected into the ducts, and x-ray pictures are taken. Treatment can also be done at
this time. Treatments allow us to:
▪ Enlarge the bile duct opening.
▪ Remove gallstones lodged in the bile duct.
▪ Place a stent (drain) in the duct.
▪ Take a biopsy.
Important – Read 1 week in advance.
Procedure may be cancelled if instructions are not followed
Blood thinning medications should never be stopped without discussing this with the provider
who prescribes the medication for you. The provider will give you instructions on how to safely
stop the blood thinning medication. Contact us if you have questions.
1. 7 days before, you should stop taking the blood thinner Effient® (prasugrel).
2. 5 days before, you should stop taking:
Blood thinners, such as Coumadin® (warfarin) or Plavix® (clopidogrel
3. 2 days before, you should stop taking the blood thinner Pradaxa® (dabigatran).
Xeralto (rivaroxaban) and Eliquis (apixaban)
4. Diabetic medicines (oral and insulin) will need to be adjusted for the time you’re not
eating as normal. Please discuss this with your primary doctor.
5. You must have an adult to drive you home or your exam will be cancelled. You may
take a cab or bus home only if you have a responsible adult with you other than the driver.
6. Plan ahead. For your test you will be given sedatives which can greatly affect your
judgment. On the day of your test, you will not be able to drive or return to work.
7. Our staff will need to review your health history, prior surgeries, allergies, and medicines
taken. Please bring this information with you.
8. If you use CPAP or BiPAP for sleep apnea, please bring it with you. We will need your
machine in order to sedate you safely.
9. If you have an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator, we will need specific information about
it before your procedure day. If you haven't already given us this information, please call us
during business hours (8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday) at (608) 263-8097.
Ask to speak to the Procedure Coordinator.
Day of the ERCP
1. No solid food, milk, or dairy products today.
2. You may drink clear liquids until 4 hours before you arrive (i.e., water, apple juice, soda,
Gatorade®). You must stop for sedation to be given safely. Avoid red liquids.
3. Take your normal medicines with a small sip of clear liquid up to 1 hour before you arrive.
Do not take medicines mentioned under “Getting Ready.”
4. Follow the arrival and registration instructions in your cover letter. If you are delayed,
call us at (608)263-8094 to let us know you are going to be late. If you are over 30 minutes
late, we may have to cancel and reschedule. We do our best to stay on time.
5. Plan to be with us about 3-5 hours. Your driver will need to be available in our waiting room
or by phone.
A nurse will review your health history and place an IV. The IV is used to give you medicines
which make you feel drowsy and relaxed during your test. You will be placed on an x-ray table
on your stomach for the exam. If there is a chance that you are pregnant, we will need to know
this before using the x-ray machine. The test will take about 1 hour.
You will then go to our recovery room for about 1 ½ hours. Your driver may sit with you there.
Once awake, you may be given something to drink. Sometimes patients will need to stay in the
hospital for the night.
Your doctor will discuss results with you before you go home. You and the doctor who referred
you will receive a copy of the report.
After the Exam and for the Rest of the Day
▪ Do not return to work.
▪ Do not drive.
▪ Do not use hazardous machinery.
▪ Do not make any important decisions.
▪ Plan to rest.
▪ Do not drink alcohol.
You should be able to resume normal daily tasks on the day after your exam.
You may have a mild sore throat. Salt water gargles should help.
You will be asked to stay on a liquid diet for the rest of the day.
You may have some gas pains from the air used to distend your stomach. If you belch, you will
expel the air and relieve any gas pains.
You should have someone stay with you overnight after the procedure.
How to Contact Us
GI Procedure Center between 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, (608) 263-8094.
After clinic hours, this number will give you the paging operator. Ask for the Gastroenterology
(GI) doctor on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
If you are not able to keep your appointment, let us know 5 days in advance.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #6595.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©3/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4516.