ERCP & MRCP

The full name of this is endoscopic retrograde cholangio pancreaticography which is a way of looking at the drainage of the liver and the pancreas for any abnormalities such as gall stones impacted in the biliary tree which is the drainage system of the liver or any evidence to suggest inflammation in the pancreas due to congenital anatomical abnormalities for instance. It is like a normal endoscopy but includes x-rays and a dye passed by a small tube into these drainage systems which drain in to the second part of the small bowel called the duodenum. There is a 5% chance of initiating inflammation of the pancreas by this technique and hence this is the technique which usually involves an overnight stay after the procedure.

Increasingly MRCP, which is an x-ray technique without endoscopy, is being used in adults to look for abnormalities involving these two drainage systems but as yet the sensitivity and detail allowed by these techniques in children is probably not superior to ERCP. If stones are found in the biliary tract they can be removed during this technique. The patient is usually covered by antibiotics during the procedure.

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