Most people have no idea what an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography (ERCP) procedure is, much less know that it’s used to see inside a patients’ pancreatic and bile ducts. It’s particularly helpful in treating patients like 76-year-old Herman Fenske, who suffers from gallstones.
Herman has travelled from his home in Theodore, northwest of Yorkton, to visit the gastrointestinal (GI) unit at Regina’s Pasqua Hospital multiple times over the past two years, and has undergone the ERCP procedure nine times.
“I retired about 15 years ago, and was in good health until March of 2018, when I suffered what I thought was a fairly routine gallbladder attack, despite the terrible pain it caused,” Herman explains. “That passed, but it left me pretty severely jaundiced, so I was sent to the GI unit at the Pasqua for more detailed diagnostic tests.”
Those tests revealed the presence of gallstones in Herman’s bile duct, at which point his first ERCP was quickly scheduled. The procedure uses a fluoroscopy machine, a type of real-time x-ray, and an endoscope, a slender, tubular instrument to find and treat problems in the pancreatic and bile ducts. The first ERCP determined Herman’s bile duct had an unusual curve in it, which made getting the gallstones out much more difficult.
As a result of the unusual curve in the bile duct, it took six attempts before the gallstones were removed. However, they returned, requiring another two procedures, including the insertion of a stent to open up the bile duct. The final ERCP procedure was performed in the spring of 2020 and Herman’s doctor is confident the gallstones are gone for good.
“I’m certainly thankful for the outstanding team at the Pasqua, and for the Hospitals of Regina Foundation for helping to provide the team with the best possible medical equipment and technology,” Herman says. “Thanks to that combination, I’m feeling very optimistic about the future.”
“Herman’s story is just one example of the importance of providing our medical teams with the technology they need to deliver the best care possible, right here at home,” said Lisa Green, vice-president, development, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “The Gastrointestinal (GI) and Endoscopy Unit at Pasqua Hospital is the only hospital in the province with a fluoroscopy unit to do ERCP procedures. By investing in leading-edge technology for our hospitals, we’re helping people across southern Saskatchewan – people just like Herman - live better lives.”