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Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

Follow-up

The patient can often return home the same day, unless a procedure is performed which increases the risk for complications. This is determined on an individual basis.  

Results from biopsies are usually available after 1 week.

If a stent is inserted, this must usually be removed or changed after 2–3 months by a repeated ERCP procedure.

Complications

Most ERCP procedures are carried out without complications. It is common to have a sore throat and light abdominal pain (including gas pain) after the procedure.

Pancreatitis is the most threatening complication and occurs in 4–15% of cases. There are some known risk factors, most significantly previous ERCP pancreatitis and possibly ampullary dysfunction. However, pancreatitis occurs for unknown cause. Fortunately, most cases are mild with only abdominal pain requiring a few extra days in the hospital. However, necrotizing pancreatitis also occurs with significant mortality.

Other, less frequent complications are cholangitis, bleeding, or perforations after endoscopic papillotomy. If any of these are discovered during the examination, they are usually treated conservatively without the need for surgery or other intervention. Delayed bleeding (within 24 hours) also occurs and will often require a repeat endoscopic procedure for treatment.

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