The full name of this procedure is Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangioscopy.
The procedure is performed under sedation using a flexible fibreoptic camera called a duodenoscope which the doctor guides with controls attached to the endoscope.
The ERCP duodenoscope is different to a normal endoscope for gastroscopy because the viewing camera is on the side rather than the end.
An ERCP is performed by passing the lubricated endoscope via the mouth into the stomach and then into the next part of the digestive tract called the duodenum. The opening of the bile duct is called the ampulla and a catheter is passed through the opening of the ampulla into the bile duct to allow stones to be removed or strictures to be stented.
The bile duct is about 5mm in diameter and drains bile from the liver and gallbladder into the duodenum. Bile aids in digestion of foods.
The procedure is usually a day case, but about 5% of people can develop pancreatitis after the ERCP and may need to be hospitalised for a few days until this settles. Rarely bleeding and perforation can occur.