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Gastroenterology

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

Thank you for choosing Tufts Medical Center's GI Motility Service. We have provided the below instructions to ensure that your time in our care is as pleasant and safe as possible. Please read all instructions carefully before your Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedure as these directions are critical to your health and safety.

The procedure and what to expect

An ERCP is an examination of the bile and pancreatic ducts by injection of a dye into those ducts through a long, hollow tube (catheter). The catheter is placed into the ducts using an endoscope (a flexible instrument with a light and camera on the end of it) which is passed though the mouth and then positioned in the duodenum, the first portion of the small intestine.

The procedure is performed under sedation administered by an Anesthesia provider. Most patients fall asleep and are not aware of the procedure.

An ERCP is performed by an advanced therapeutic endoscopist – a physician (gastroenterologist) specially trained in this procedure.

You may need to be admitted to the hospital overnight after the procedure – this will be determined by the doctor who performs the procedure. 

Planning for your appointment

The Tufts Medical Center GI Motility Unit is located on the third floor in the Proger building. To find information on directions, parking and our campus map, visit the hospital locations and directions page >

Plan to spend about four hours in our unit for your procedure. We will do everything possible to avoid a delay, but emergencies may interrupt the schedule. Please arrive 1 hour prior to the scheduled procedure time.

When preparing to come to the Medical Center for your appointment, please be sure to first:

  • Be sure you have an insurance referral, if required by your insurance company.
  • Be prepared to pay any co-payment on the day of your procedure.
  • Please arrange for an adult escort, 18 years or older, to take you home after the procedure (more info below)
  • Please bring the following items with you:
    • Your completed medical questionnaire and list of medication(s).
    • Your hospital card.

Please arrange for an adult escort, 18 years or older, to take you home after the procedure. You will be receiving an anesthetic, and you should not drive until the next day. Your escort does not have to come with you when you check in but MUST meet you in the Endoscopy Unit on Proger 3 when you are ready to go home. You are still required to have an adult escort, 18 years or older, if you plan to take the T, taxi, ride sharing service, THE RIDE or are walking home. If you do not have an escort on the day of your procedure, your procedure will be CANCELLED and RESCHEDULED.  As above, you may be admitted to the hospital for observation after the procedure, at the discretion of your treating physician.

*If you are above 60 years of age and need an escort home, volunteer escorts may be available if scheduled 2 weeks in advance. 

If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call us at least 48 hours in advance to re-schedule: 617-636-0142.

Preparing for your procedure

FIVE DAYS before your procedure

  • PLEASE CONFIRM YOUR ARRANGEMENT FOR SOMEONE TO TAKE YOU HOME (even if you are walking, taking public transportation, or a taxi). THIS ADULT MUST COME TO PROGER 3 TO MEET YOU AND SIGN DISCHARGE PAPERWORK. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ESCORT, YOUR PROCEDURE WILL BE CANCELLED AND RESCHEDULED.
  • If you have diabetes and take medication to control your blood sugar, contact your primary care physician or diabetes doctor for instructions on how to take your diabetes medication while preparing for this procedure.
  • If you take any BLOOD THINNING MEDICATIONS OTHER THAN ASPIRIN (for example:  Coumadin (Warfarin), Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto, Plavix, Brillinta, Lovenox), contact your primary care physician or heart doctor for instructions on if and when to stop these medications prior to your procedure.  ASPIRIN may be continued prior to the procedure.

ONE DAY before your procedure

  • You must NOT have anything to eat or drink after midnight on the night before the procedure.
  • If you are taking medications, please contact your primary care physician or gastroenterologist regarding what medication to take on the day of the procedure.  These medications may be taken with enough water needed to swallow them completely.

Day of the procedure

  • Please arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled procedure time.
  • Please check in at the reception desk. You will be asked to fill out a brief medication questionnaire.
  • You will be brought into the changing area and asked to remove your clothes and put on a gown.
  • A nurse will go over your medication history, current medications, and allergies.
  • FLUOROSCOPY (X-RAY) is utilized during the procedure.  Please notify the nursing staff if you think you may be pregnant.  A pregnancy test may be requested if indicated prior to the procedure. 
  • Once in the procedure room, an intravenous line will be placed and you will be attached to a heart monitor, a blood pressure cuff, and supplemental oxygen will be started via a cannula placed in the nose.
  • The doctor will review the consent form for the procedure and answer any questions.
  • You will be positioned on the exam table, a small mouthpiece will be placed, you will be administered an anesthetic, and you will fall asleep.
  • The procedure will begin. The endoscope does not interfere with your breathing during the test. 

After your procedure

  • You will be monitored in the Endoscopy Unit area for approximately one hour. 
  • You may need to be admitted to the hospital overnight after the procedure – this will be determined by the doctor who performs the procedure.
  • Your throat may be sore for several hours.
  • You will be able to resume your normal diet after you leave the Endoscopy Unit unless you are instructed otherwise.