FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS AN ERCP?

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that combines upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and x-rays to treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. A gastroenterologist uses a special endoscope (a long, flexible tube with a light and camera at the end) to examine the inside of the digestive system.

For more information, please visit: http://ddc.musc.edu/public/procedures/ercp.html

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN ERCP?

Doctors use ERCP to treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. Problems include, but are not limited to:

  • Confirming the diagnosis of cancer of the pancreas or the bile duct, so that surgery or other treatment can be tailored

  • Gallstones in the bile duct

  • Unexplained loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Persistent or recurrent upper abdominal pain which cannot be diagnosed by other tests

  • Blockage of the bile duct by stones, cancer, stricture or compression from adjacent organs

  • Jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin) due to obstruction of the bile duct, also causing darkening of the urine and light colored stool.

To learn more, please visit:https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/endoscopic-retrograde-cholangiopancreatography#use

HOW LONG DOES THE ERCP PROCEDURE NORMALLY LAST?

You can expect the ERCP procedure to last about 30-90 minutes. The time of the procedure, of course, is based on the complexity of the case.

CAN I TAKE PART IN THE SHARP STUDY IF I HAVE HAD AN ERCP BEFORE?

You will not qualify for the SHARP study if you have had a prior ERCP or pancreas surgery with minor papilla treatment. If you had an ERCP to treat gallstones for example, you could still qualify.

WHAT DOES "BLIND STUDY" MEAN?

Blinding is a big part of the SHARP study because it removes the bias. Our research providers, nurses, study coordinators and patients will be blinded for the study meaning they will not know which group the patient has been placed in. If medically necessary, patients and their providers could be made aware of the treatment group.

WHAT IS THE PREVALENCE OF PANCREAS DIVISUM?

Prevalence of Pancreas Divisum in the general (healthy) population is about 7-10%.

For more information about Pancreas Divisum, please visit https://pancreasfoundation.org/

WHAT DOES "RANDOMIZED TRIAL" MEAN?

Randomized trials are a type of study where participants are randomly assigned to a group. Using our SHARP study as an example, participants will be randomly placed into either the control group (no ERCP) or the intervention group (ERCP). Randomized trials are a great way to learn if a treatment is effective.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF AN ERCP?

While ERCP may reduce the risk of another episode (or even prevent all future episodes), the procedure itself may cause acute pancreatitis in 10-20% of individuals. In addition to pancreatitis, the risks include bleeding and perforation (tearing). Finally, the minor papilla sphincterotomy may lead to scarring and symptoms later in life.   

WHAT DOES AN ENDOSCOPIC MINOR PAPILLOTOMY LOOK LIKE?

 
 
 
 
 

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