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ERCP for biliary disease in children

Moises Guelrud, MD
Section Editors
Elizabeth B Rand, MD
Douglas A Howell, MD, FASGE, FACG
Melvin B Heyman, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) has an important role in the care of children with a variety of biliary tract disorders, which can be divided broadly as congenital or acquired (table 1). This topic review will summarize indications for ERCP in children with biliary diseases, focusing on some of the more common disorders. Most of these disorders are discussed in further detail in their corresponding topic reviews. The technical aspects of performing ERCP in children, including complications, and for the use of ERCP for pancreatic disorders, are presented separately. (See "ERCP in children: Technique, success and complications" and "ERCP for pancreatic disease in children".)


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is an important diagnostic and therapeutic tool for biliary disease in infants and children, as it is in adults. With the advent of new diagnostic imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), ERCP is evolving into a predominantly therapeutic procedure. The usefulness and safety of ERCP in the pediatric age group depends in large part on the experience of the endoscopist. If the necessary experience and equipment are available at an institution, the following are appropriate biliary indications for ERCP:

Diagnostic indications

Neonatal cholestasis (for biliary cysts; and at some institutions as part of the evaluation for suspected biliary atresia)

Investigation of inconclusive abnormal findings on other examinations (eg, MRCP or CT scan)

Therapeutic indications

Biliary obstruction (eg, due to known or suspected choledocholithiasis, bile plug syndrome, parasitic infestation, biliary strictures, or primary sclerosing cholangitis)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 21, 2017.
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