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ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography) Malpractice

Kentucky Medical Malpractice Attorney Located in Louisville

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a means of examination and sometimes a means of treatment of problems with the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and bile ducts. A gastroenterologist may recommend an ERCP to a patient when his or her medical history suggests possible gall stones, blockage of a bile duct, persistent pancreatitis or a need for a biopsy of tumors. If it is inappropriate to perform an ERCP or if certain problems arise during the procedure, a Kentucky medical malpractice case may arise.

The liver, gall bladder and pancreas are important components of the human digestive system. The liver produces bile to break down the fat in food so it can be digested. This bile is stored in the gall bladder between meals. The gall bladder sends bile via the common bile duct to the small intestine to aid in digestion. The pancreas produces pancreatic juices which also assist in the break down and digestion of food.

If a gastroenterologist performs an ERCP, he or she will guide an endoscope, which is a small, lighted, flexible tube, into the mouth and down the digestive tract into the stomach to the top of the small intestine (duodenum). The doctor then inserts a dye into the tube which flows into the duodenum so that X-rays can be taken. These X-rays will allow the doctor to observe the pancreas and the liver ducts.

If the doctor views gall stones, he/she can remove the stones with the endoscope. If there is an obstruction then the doctor may be able to open up the area with a stent. Finally, a physician can take samples of any tumors shown in the X-rays for a biopsy. Since an ERCP is an invasive procedure, it should primarily be used for treating as opposed to diagnosing a problem There are less invasive ways of diagnosis, such as CAT or CT scans and ultrasounds of the abdomen.

ERCP Risks

There are some risks attributed to the ERCP, so a physician should use discretion when recommending this procedure. Approximately 10% of all patients have health problems after the performing of an ERCP.

These problems may include:

  • Bleeding or puncturing of the intestines, stomach, esophagus or common bile duct
  • Pancreatitis
  • Infection
  • Reaction to Anesthesia (sedation) or dye

Generally, complications will be short term and treatable. However, some complications may require surgery, result in long term health issues such as diabetes, and on rare occasion result in death. Patients with certain health conditions may be more susceptible to these risks, so a doctor should discuss such risks and offer alternatives to an ERCP.

Again, an ERCP should not be used for purely diagnostic reasons as there are other less invasive means of diagnostic testing. Medical Malpractice can arise in situations when a doctor performs an ERCP that is not indicated (is not appropriate in the particular circumstances). Also, certain types of punctures or perforations indicate negligence or medical malpractice.

Contact a Louisville Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or a family member have suffered health complications as the result of an ERCP, you can contact a Louisville medical malpractice attorney to explore your options and perhaps investigate a medical malpractice claim.

Contact Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC if you have questions. Brett is a Kentucky attorney, and will be pleased to discuss your legal options so that you can make an informed decision about the course of action you need to take. Call Brett at (502) 242-8877.