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Posted: Monday, February 28, 2022

Advantages of ERCP Procedure

We’ve all experienced the occasional rumble in the stomach. Sometimes, it’s simply an issue with something you ate disagreeing with you. Other times, however, it can be a sign of something much more serious, particularly if it’s persistent, painful or affecting your overall way of life. Gastrointestinal troubles are not something to simply put aside in hopes they’ll just “go away,” as many gastro issues can be addressed quickly and potentially even cured if caught early. Which is why, if you’re having lingering stomach issues, it could be time to consult a gastroenterologist.

Blount Memorial board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologist Dr. Frank Wright says one of the many tools in his arsenal is the endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, procedure. “ERCP is a non-surgical procedure that involves passing a small upper endoscope down the patient’s throat, beyond the stomach, and into the beginning of the small intestine where the bile duct and pancreas drain,” Wright said. “Often, we perform this procedure to remove obstructed gallstones from the patient’s bile duct or to provide drainage of a bile duct obstruction from cancer to improve jaundice. It’s a procedure that was developed more than 50 years ago, but it’s been refined over the years to be as minimally invasive as possible,” he explained. “It requires extensive training to perform, and I personally spent an extra year of fellowship training for the ERCP procedure,” he said.

“Blount Memorial Hospital also has the additional Spyglass™ choledochoscope, which supplements ERCP,” Wright continued. “This scope allows the gastroenterologist to remove impacted large gallstones from the bile duct with lithotripsy – the use of ultrasound shockwaves to break the stones into small particles that can be passed out of the body. This also helps us obtain direct tissue biopsies of bile duct and pancreatic tumors, so it’s a great advantage to our patients who are undergoing the ERCP procedure, and it’s something not every gastroenterologist in the area has at the ready,” he explained.

Wright adds that there is one key symptom to watch for that could be an early sign of a larger gastrointestinal problem. “If you have a bile duct obstruction from a stone or a cancer, one early sign could be jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes. If you begin to notice this, you should contact a gastroenterologist as soon as possible,” he explained.

For more information about ERCP, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wright, call Blount Memorial Physicians Group – Gastroenterology at 865-980-5060.

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