If gallstones are in the bile ducts, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) may be used to locate and remove the stones before or during gallbladder surgery.
During the procedure, your throat will be sprayed with a local anesthetic. You will be given medication through an IV to help you relax. An endoscope will be used. It is a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube connected to a computer and TV monitor. It will be passed through your mouth and guided through the stomach and into the small intestine. Air is used to inflate the small intestine, so you may feel bloated during and after the procedure. A special dye will be injected. It will temporarily stain the ducts in the biliary system. The affected bile duct is then located. An instrument on the endoscope is used to open the duct. The stone is then captured in a tiny basket and removed with the endoscope.
Occasionally, a person who has had a cholecystectomy is diagnosed with a gallstone in the bile ducts weeks, months, or even years after the surgery. The ERCP procedure is usually successful in removing the stone.
Gallstones. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114033/Gallstones . Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
McVeigh G, Dobinson Evans E, Dwerryhouse S, et al. Gallstone disease: diagnosis and management. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg188/chapter/Introduction. Updated October 2014.
Portincasa P, Di Ciaula A, de Bari O, Garruti G, Palmieri VO, Wang DQ. Management of gallstones and its related complications. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;10(1):93-112.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 9/17/2014