ERCP Risks

Potential for Adverse Reactions during ERCP 

ERCP Risks

During ERCP, a dye called a contrast medium is used to highlight the bile and pancreatic ducts so that issues can be spotted. A sedative is also given before the procedure. Unfortunately, some patients have adverse reactions to either the sedative or the dye. This page explores what can happen if a patient is sensitive or allergic to these and what doctors should be doing to prevent reactions from occurring.

Iodine Allergies and Contrast Medium

Contrast medium contains iodine, so patients who have allergies to shellfish will react to the substance. Allergic reactions can be mild, moderate, or severe, so it may not always be immediately obvious that a reaction is occurring. If patients or doctors don’t know about a shellfish allergy before ERCP, it may be difficult to determine what is causing symptoms.

In some cases, patients have a reaction to contrast medium even when no previous allergies are present. In these cases, patients may not even replicate the reaction if contrast medium is administered in the future. Due to this unpredictability, it’s important that doctors monitor patients for adverse reactions during every ERCP procedure.

Symptoms of Contrast Medium Reactions

Mild symptoms of contrast medium reactions may include hives, coughing, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Moderate reactions to contrast medium may include things like heart palpitations, painful abdominal cramps, facial edema, and headaches. Severe reactions may include arrhythmia, drops in blood pressure, and seizures. In very rare and severe cases, contrast medium reactions may cause death.

Sedation Risks

Sedation always carries risks of reactions, especially when used for procedures like ERCP in which patients have been weakened by whatever condition or ailment warranted the ERCP. Sedation risks are automatically exacerbated for seniors. While nausea and vomiting are common after a sedative has been administered, sedatives may have an effect on the respiratory system.

Since reactions to sedatives can occur in any patient, doctors should always be sure to monitor patients’ breathing throughout ERCP procedures. Doctors should also be prepared to use mechanical means to counter any complications that may occur.

Preventing Adverse ERCP Reactions

Obtaining a comprehensive medical history detailing allergies and potential immune system vulnerabilities can help doctors to assess risk factors for reactions during ERCP. Skin tests may be used with some degree of accuracy to assess allergies to iodine. If an allergy is detected, doctors may wish to recommend a different procedure or administer medications that can help to prevent reactions.

During the ERCP procedure, doctors should monitor patients carefully and be vigilant about taking steps to counter any perceived reactions. A failure to react quickly enough or to take steps to prevent reactions from occurring during or after ERCP may be considered negligence.If you or a loved one has suffered an adverse reaction due to ERCP negligence, contact an experienced attorney today. You may receive due compensation for medical costs and pain and suffering stemming from the procedure.