Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (or ERCP) is a minimally-invasive procedure that allows a highly-trained gastroenterologist to diagnose and treat various conditions of the digestive system. The bile ducts, pancreas, liver, and sometimes gallbladder all may be evaluated using ERCP.
Endoscopic refers to the use of an endoscope, a thin flexible tube equipped with a tiny video camera. Retrograde means backward and is a reference to the direction that a special dye is injected through either the bile or pancreatic ducts during ERCP. Once the dye is injected, pictures (X-rays) are taken that allow the doctor to see where problems such as widening, narrowing or blockage of the ducts are taking place. The process of taking these X-rays is known as cholangiopancreatography ("cholangio" refers to the bile duct system, "pancrea" to the pancreas).