ERCP Recovery

When the procedure goes smoothly with no complications, the recovery process may last as little as two hours. It’s important for patients to ask as many questions as they need to fully understand their preparation and recovery process. The patient is typically released after an ERCP, but depending on how the procedure goes, the doctor may wish to monitor the patient to ensure that side effects or complications don’t develop.

How to Prepare for an ERCP

Patient education is an important part of the preparation process, and is thus integral to smooth and healthy recovery. The doctor and nurses will provide specific instructions to follow before the procedure.

Typically, ERCP preparation involves fasting before the procedure takes place. The patient may be advised not to eat or drink from between six to 12 hours before the procedure. This eliminates the interference of digestion and minimizes digestive issues after the exam.

Before the procedure, patients should tell their doctor if they experience:

  • Hives, medication or food allergies, or asthma
  • Shellfish allergies, as iodine may be used in the contrast material for X-rays
  • Have in the past week undergone a digestive tract study using barium
  • Medical conditions that lead to the current use of blood thinners

The Recovery Process

ERCP recovery is typically short and free of complication. After the procedure, patients are instructed to wait in the facility’s recovery room for one to two hours. During this time, the patient will be monitored to ensure that symptoms of ERCP complications do not develop. Complications may be present if the patient experiences abnormal pain, vomiting, or fever. By keeping the patient in the facility during ERCP recovery, complications can be treated as soon as possible.

Due to the sedation used during the ERCP procedure, patients should not drive home afterward. It is also recommended that patients do not return to work immediately, as the sedatives may interfere with concentration and information retention. A full recovery may require avoiding driving or working for up to 24 hours.

Potential Side Effects

Side effects after ERCP are generally mild. The patient may temporarily experience mild bloating and discomfort, which is often due to the small amount of air that is introduced during the procedure. A mild sore throat may also occur, since the procedure involves placing an endoscope into the mouth and down through the esophagus.

Hospitalization after an ERCP

In certain cases, doctors may recommend an extended stay in the facility to monitor ERCP recovery. Patients may be asked to undergo additional testing or therapy, such as intravenous (IV) antibiotics for infection.

Patients may need to undergo overnight ERCP recovery in the facility if gallstone removal or stent placement took place. These treatments may pose a higher risk of complications. By staying overnight in the facility, medical professionals can closely monitor the patient for signs of ERCP complications.




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