Dr Ian Berkowitz


Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, is a specialized technique used to study the bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder. Ducts are drainage routes; the drainage channels from the liver are called bile or biliary ducts. The pancreatic duct is the drainage channel from the 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 your procedure. Phone: 011 482 8556 (Monday to Friday between 8.30am to 4.30 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

Medical aid 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 Milpark Hospital, report to main reception on the ground floor.

 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 endoscopic unit or the ward

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.

Phone for appointment

Mon - Friday: 

08:30 - 16:30 

Tel: +27(0)11 482 8556/7