A medical mouthful

That would be endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). It’s the cholangiopancreatography that especially interests me. I was hoping that there would be some way to break that monster into pieces, like this:

cholangio-pancreato-graphy ‘imaging of the bile duct and the pancreas’

but cholangio- and pancreato- are both combining forms, with a linking –o– that has to be written solid with what follows. So we’re stuck with the whole long business.

All this is on my mind because I’m undergoing this procedure on June 7th; I had the diagnostic MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) back on the 11th.

Anatomical background from an information booklet:

I have gallstones. Asymptomatic ones (as is apparently very common), but nevertheless troublesome.

From Wikipedia:

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a technique that combines the use of endoscopy and fluoroscopy to diagnose and treat certain problems of the biliary or pancreatic ductal systems. Through the endoscope, the physician can see the inside of the stomach and duodenum, and inject a contrast medium into the ducts in the biliary tree and pancreas so they can be seen on radiographs.

ERCP is used primarily to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts and main pancreatic duct, including gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks (from trauma and surgery), and cancer. ERCP can be performed for diagnostic and therapeutic reasons, although the development of safer and relatively non-invasive investigations such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) and endoscopic ultrasound has meant that ERCP is now rarely performed without therapeutic intent.

In my various dealings with medical folk, no one has ever called the procedure anything but ERCP. I’ve never actually heard anyone say cholangiopancreatography, much less the whole thing, and no wonder.

Two technical terms here: bíliàry, the adjective related to bile; and the combining form cholangio– ‘bile duct’ (cf. cholangiocarcinoma ‘bile duct cancer’), etymologically Gr. cholē ‘bile’ (cf. choleric, and, believe it or not, cholesterol) + Gr. angeion ‘vessel, receptacle’ (Latinized version in the formative angio-, as in angioplasty and angioma; also angina).


One Response to “A medical mouthful”

  1. Misty Says:

    Don’t wait. Gallstone attacks are the most terrible pain and can last for upwards of 14 hours. The only thing to know is that after gall bladder removal (or with a dysfunctional gall bladder) you may have trouble digesting fatty meals. I use ox bile.

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