Are there any significant risks?
ERCP is generally a well-tolerated procedure. There is a small risk of the following:
- Damage to crowned teeth or dental bridgework.
- Inflammation of the pancreas: this is called pancreatitis. It can be painful, causing abdominal pain and sickness, and usually requires some days in hospital for intravenous fluids and painkillers. On very rare occasions it may be very severe. The risk of pancreatitis occurring is 1 to 2%, (which is one in 50 to 100 patients).
- A reaction to the sedative. The sedative can affect your breathing making it more slow and shallow.
- Bleeding: if a cut is made into the bile duct to remove a gallstone, there is a risk of bleeding. This risk is approximately 1% (which is one in a 100 patients). Bleeding can often be treated immediately through the endoscope and is rarely a major complication. If severe it may require a blood transfusion or surgery.
- Perforation, which is a small tear in the wall of the bowel. This is rare. This would require a short stay in hospital and treatment with antibiotics, or very occasionally may require surgical repair.
- You may have a sore throat after the test, but this normally clears up in a few days.
Please talk to your endoscopist before your examination if you have any worries about these risks.