During an ERCP, your doctor will pass a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope through your mouth, esophagus and stomach into the duodenum (the first part of your small intestine) while you lie on your side on an X-ray table. After your doctor sees the common opening to the ducts from the liver and pancreas, he or she will pass a narrow plastic tube called a catheter through the endoscope and into the ducts. Your doctor will then inject a dye into the pancreatic or biliary ducts and take X-rays.
The instrument does not interfere with breathing, but you might feel a bloating sensation because of the air introduced through the instrument. You can resume your usual diet unless you are instructed otherwise.
Your doctor might apply a local anesthetic to your throat or give you a sedative to make you more comfortable. Some patients also receive antibiotics before the procedure. If you have ERCP as an outpatient, you will be observed for complications until most of the effects of the medications have worn off. Someone must accompany you home from the procedure because of the sedatives used during the examination. Even if you feel alert after the procedure, the sedatives can affect your judgment and reflexes for the rest of the day.
Feel free to ask your doctor about anything you don't understand.