Following your procedure, your doctor will have valuable information about your liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and pancreatic and bile ducts.
It is possible that your doctor may find that all of these organs and ducts are basically normal and don't require any treatment plans.
If a biopsy or cytology are taken, the results are usually available in 4-7 days. Be assured that your doctor's decision to take a biopsy or cytology does not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected. Biopsies of the digestive tract are routinely taken to investigate other problems such as inflammation and ulcers.
If a problem was found and not treated during the procedure, it may require additional treatment. Your doctor will discuss these findings with you along with treatment alternatives or choices. You and your doctor can decide on a treatment plan that will benefit you most at this stage in your life.
During the procedure, if a narrowed duct is found, your doctor may dilate the duct with a balloon and place a stent inside of it. Stent placement is successful in 90 out of 100 procedures. In most cases it is reasonable to expect that the duct will remain open longer than with just the balloon dilation alone.
However, there is no guarantee as to how long the duct will stay open even with the use of a stent. Stents are usually used for temporary help in keeping the duct open, but they can be permanently placed. Temporary stents usually remain in place for approximately 3 - 6 months until they are blocked with debris. At this time, they are removed and replaced. Non-cancerous areas often remain dilated or enlarged, even after a stent that has been in place for several months, is removed.
It is common to perform up to three balloon dilations with stenting in one year. If the stent was placed because of cancer, it commonly will collapse after 3-6 months and must be replaced if symptoms return.
Surgery may be required at any time if the dilation with stent placement is not successful.
ERCP is a very reliable and accurate test to see and diagnose many problems. However, it is possible for some problems to be missed, despite its reliability and accuracy. So, it is important to always communicate with your doctor about any symptoms that you have after this procedure.
If you have any questions about your particular situation, you and your doctor can discuss your expected results. It is important that your expectations match your doctor's expectations.