ERCP, also known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, is a procedure used to diagnose and treat biliary system obstructions. The exact scope of the procedure depends on one’s goals, but it usually takes between 30 minutes and several hours to perform. Today, our gastroenterology experts at Bay Area Gastroenterology in Trinity, FL are taking a look at recovery from this procedure, including how long it takes.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From ERCP?
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to need anywhere from a few hours to a few days to heal from endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. How quickly you recover depends on several factors, including how well you prepared for the procedure, your overall health at the time of your procedure, the scope of the procedure, and how well you take care of yourself after the procedure.
Note, even though your recovery from your procedure will be very brief, you will need to make some lifestyle changes. There is approximately a one-in-five chance that gallstones occur after an ERCP. Therefore, if your endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is for the treatment of a biliary obstruction rather than to diagnose an illness, you should reduce your saturated fat intake significantly.
What Can I Expect During the Recovery Process?
The first thing you should understand about the recovery process is that you won’t be able to go home for the first couple of hours post-op. This is an outpatient procedure, so you won’t need to stay overnight in a hospital. However, we need to observe you for a couple of hours to ensure that the anesthesia has worn off sufficiently.
Once the anesthesia has worn off sufficiently, we will review your post-op care guidelines with you. You are free to call us with any questions you may have during the recovery process, but this is the perfect time to request clarification about anything that is unclear. Once your post-op care guidelines have been adequately explained to you, someone can drive you home. You can’t drive in the 24 hours following general anesthesia administration.
What Can I Eat Following My Procedure?
There will be no dietary restrictions during your ERCP recovery period. However, it is very important that you remain hydrated and well-nourished. Therefore, you may want to drink a high-protein smoothie made with throat-soothing ice and packed full of high-fiber fruits and veggies. If you’re feeling up to eating after your procedure, make sure you drink plenty of cool water with your well-balanced meals.
You may want to stay away from piping hot foods for a while, like steaming hot soups. Some people find that hot soup doesn’t make their throat feel very comfortable. However, broth-based soup can be great for your recovery due to its high water content. It can also be a great source of protein and soluble fiber depending on what you put in it. If you want a bowl of soup after your procedure, put a few ice cubes in it to cool it off before you eat it.
How Much Should I Drink After My Procedure?
It is very important that you are hydrated following your endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Everyone’s hydration needs are unique, but you will probably find that you are hydrated if you are moderately active and drink between 64 and 128 ounces of water daily. If you find that your urine is dark rather than pale, make a point to drink another cup of water or eat a serving of fruits or vegetables with high water content.
For example, if you find yourself struggling to drink enough hydrating fluids, like tea or water, try snacking on a serving of honeydew or asparagus. You also may benefit from adding a bit more sodium to your diet to help you retain the hydrating fluids you are able to consume throughout the day.
How Should I Prepare for My Procedure?
There are a number of preparation steps you should take in advance of your procedure. For example, depending on your diet, you may need to minimize the amount of saturated fat you consume for seven days before your procedure. Also, if you are a smoker, it is highly advisable to stop smoking for several days in advance of your procedure. It is very important that your blood pressure is normal so you can receive general anesthesia safely.
What Should I Wear to My Procedure?
We recommend wearing something loose and comfortable that is easy to take off and put on when you come in for your ERCP. It is advisable to wear clothes that are easy to take off and put on because you will need to change into a hospital gown before your procedure. Also, you may find that you don’t feel very coordinated after your procedure due to the general anesthesia used to put you to sleep and keep you comfortable during your procedure.
What Should I Eat Before My Procedure?
It is important to understand that you must fast before your procedure because we will keep you comfortable with general anesthesia. Specifically, you cannot eat anything in the eight hours leading up to your scheduled procedure. It is of the utmost importance that your stomach is empty when general anesthesia is administered.
Can I Drink Before My Procedure?
To be clear, a dry fast is not required prior to the administration of general anesthesia. In other words, drinking is okay. In fact, drinking is encouraged because you should be sufficiently hydrated at the time of your procedure. However, it is also important to understand that you cannot drink dark beverages in the eight hours leading up to your procedure. You can only drink clear liquids, like:
- Coconut water
- Apple juice
- Pulp-free orange juice
- White cranberry juice
You also need to be aware that you cannot even drink clear liquids in the 120 minutes leading up to receiving general anesthesia. Even though you will fill out paperwork and change before the general anesthesia is administered, the best thing to do would be to stop drinking clear liquids two hours before your appointment time.
Are There Any Medications I Should Avoid Pre-Op?
Yes, there are certain drugs and supplements you should avoid for a couple of weeks before your procedure. For instance, it is extremely important that you do not take any drugs or supplements that will thin your blood in the two weeks prior to your procedure. Examples of drugs and supplements that cause blood thinning include:
- Fish oil supplements
- Vitamin E supplements
It is also very important that you do not consume caffeine in excess for a few days before your procedure. Keeping your blood pressure normal is crucial for a quick, successful procedure. For this reason, it is also important that you do not consume too much sodium pre-op. Too much sodium can lead to excessive water retention and elevated blood pressure.
Can I Smoke Before My Procedure?
No, you can’t smoke before your procedure. In fact, you should spend 72 hours before your procedure not consuming tobacco products or alcohol. Like consuming too much caffeine and sodium, consuming tobacco products and alcohol can elevate your blood pressure significantly. This may affect your procedure or recovery. Alcohol consumption before your procedure is particularly bad because it also dehydrates you and flushes out nutrients.
How Long Will My Procedure Take?
To reiterate, depending on the scope of the procedure, you may be under general anesthesia for half an hour or several hours. If a biliary obstruction is being diagnosed, your procedure shouldn’t take an hour to complete. However, you will still need to be observed until the general anesthesia has worn off.
On the other hand, you can expect your procedure to take closer to two or three hours if a major obstruction is being removed. We will let you know how long you should expect your procedure to take during your initial consultation. We will also advise you on whether you qualify.
Schedule Your Initial Evaluation Today
Typically, recovering from ERCP takes between a few hours and a few days. You will be observed for a couple of hours after your procedure as the anesthesia wears off. Then, you will be free to go home and rest. Just make sure you have a ride; you can’t drive after receiving general anesthesia. To learn more about this procedure, schedule your initial evaluation today at Bay Area Gastroenterology in Trinity, FL. We can’t wait to meet you.