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Advanced Endoscopy Clinical Care

Faculty physicians in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology who specialize in advanced endoscopy are renowned nationally as leading authorities in the field and are engaged in the comprehensive care of patients with pancreatobiliary disease. These world-class physicians are experts in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and have extensive knowledge of the indications, applications, and complications of diagnostic and therapeutic ERCP.

A founder of the Division, Dr. Glen Lehman, transformed IU Gastro's advanced endoscopy presence worldwide. For over 30 years, Dr. Lehman heavily involved himself in training and teaching fellows, including those from more than 15 countries worldwide. His academic legacy includes numerous high-profile publications, book chapters, and hundreds of invited talks and presentations in the U.S. and internationally. He has received Photo of Dr. Lehman in the endoscopy suite during a procedure talking to a colleague.several distinguished awards, notably the Rudolf Schindler Award, the most prestigious awards presented by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

In 2007, the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at IU established the Glen A. Lehman Professorship of Gastroenterology. Dr. Stuart Sherman, a mentee of Dr. Lehman who has also gained wide international recognition in the field of endoscopy, became the first recipient of this professorship.

Alongside Dr. Lehman, Dr. Stuart Sherman was a giant in the GI endoscopy field, and has left a thriving legacy within our Division. Originally from New York City, Dr. Sherman chose to complete his advanced endoscopy fellowship at Indiana University.Dr. Stuart Sherman holding an IUH award. After serving as the Director of Pancreaticobiliary Endoscopy at UCLA School of Medicine, he returned to Indiana University in 1992 to officially join as IU Gastro faculty. In 1995, he became the Director of ERCP service and went on to become full Professor of Medicine and Radiology. Dr. Sherman is a recognized authority figure on the application of ERCP to disease of the  pancreas and biliary tract. He lectured internationally and nationally and has published more than 400 articles and book chapters; mentored more than 50 GI fellows, Headshot of Stuart Sherman smiling.advanced endoscopy trainees, research fellows and junior faculty in research. In 2021, colleague Dr. Evan Fogel became the inaugural recipient of the Stuart Sherman Professorship in Gastroenterology. The final mark he left in the Gastroenterology field was being the recipient of the ASGE Rudolf A. Schindler Award in 2023.

This accomplished team is at the forefront of endoscopic research and offers expertise in ERCP and Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) and multiple other innovative endoscopic treatments. Research in this field advances the treatment and care for patients who suffer from many digestive diseases and conditions. Patients can count on these attentive physicians for not only their depth of knowledge but their compassionate approach to care.

Looking for Patient Care?

To schedule an appointment with an IU School of Medicine faculty gastroenterologist, contact Indiana University Health at (317) 944-0980 or through the Find a Doctor portal.

Physicians can use the referral form for ERCP consult and procedure referrals.

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ERCP Team PhotoERCP Expertise

The first ERCP at Indiana University School of Medicine was performed in 1974 by Glen Lehman, MD. Since, this specialty division has been a pioneering team in the field of ERCP, consistently ranking as the highest volume referral center for ERCP in North America, with nearly 3,000 ERCP procedures performed annually.

The ERCP program at IU School of Medicine has internationally recognized leaders in ERCP who see patients with pancreatobiliary disease daily. The ERCP service at IU Health University Hospital in downtown Indianapolis provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient pancreatobiliary services – offering services to patients and referring physicians from the Midwest and throughout the country.

Photo of Advanced EUS TeamEndoscopic Ultrasound Expertise

The Endoscopic Ultrasound Service by IU School of Medicine faculty physicians was started in 1987, making it the third in the United States to provide this clinical services. Over the years, several prominent national and international leaders in gastrointestinal endoscopy have trained in Endoscopic Ultrasound at this program and subsequently moved on to provide this service around the country and the globe.

The Endoscopic Ultrasound specialists at IU School of Medicine is comprised of thought leaders and experts with significant experience in Endoscopic Ultrasound. The high-volume Endoscopic Ultrasound program offers both outpatient and inpatient services for a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Endoscopic Ultrasound is frequently part of a multi-disciplinary medical management strategy for complex medical conditions. 

Photo of Dr. Al-Haddad performing a procedure in the endoscopy lab.Innovative and Third Space Endoscopy

The Innovative Endoscopy team at IU School of Medicine offers groundbreaking minimally invasive endoscopic therapeutic options for diseases previously treated definitively only with surgery. Faculty physicians on the Innovative and Third Space Endoscopy team perform innovative endoscopic procedures, including Per-Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) for achalasia, Endoscopic Submucosal Dissection (ESD) for early GI-based malignancies, Submucosal Tunneling Endoscopic Resection (STER) for tumors of the GI luminal wall, Gastric Per-Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (G-POEM) for refractory gastroparesis and flexible endoscopic Zenker Diverticulotomy – all of which were the first procedures of their kind performed in the state of Indiana.

Patients are referred throughout the Midwest to our leading experts for innovative treatment of these rare disorders.

Advanced Endoscopy Treatments

Patient care encompasses treatment and diagnosis of pancreatic pseudocyst, pancreas divisum, pancreatitis, Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction/manometry, biliary disorders-sclerosing cholangitis, biliary strictures and the impact of ERCP on these diseases. If x-rays illustrate a blockage of the papilla or the duct systems, a gastroenterologist could potentially treat the problem immediately. Common treatments would include balloon dilation (stretching), sphincterotomy, stenting and positioning of drainage tubes.

Advanced Endoscopy Research

Faculty in this division is on the forefront of endoscopic research in the pancreaticobiliary tree and are recognized authorities on the application of ERCP to diseases of the pancreas and biliary tree. Primary research is focused on diagnostic and therapeutic ERCP, Sphincter of Oddi manometry, and gastroesophageal reflux. Ongoing studies in endoscopic management of idiopathic pancreatitis and prevention of post-ERCP pancreatitis are also active.

View more on advanced endoscopy research

  • Sphincterotomy

    Sphincterotomy is a medical procedure that cuts the muscular sphincter of the bile duct or pancreatic duct. A sphincterotomy is usually performed to assist in bile duct stone removal prior to placement of a stent or drainage tube to treat papillary stenosis and sphincter of Oddi dysfunction and to facilitate stricture dilation and tissue sampling. A small incision (about ¼ – ½ inch long) is made in the papilla to expand the relevant opening. This incision is made with an electrical current that also cauterizes the tissues to prevent bleeding. A special type of sphincterotomy, a precut sphincterotomy, is used as a last resort when a physician experiences difficulty in trying to place the standard sphincterotome completely into the pertinent duct. This type of treatment is deemed somewhat more risky in certain situations.

  • Stenting

    After successful dilation of a duct narrowing, a physician may insert a small tube called a stent to keep the duct expanded or to aid with any duct drainage. There are plastic (polyethylene) stents and metal (metallic) stents. A plastic stent is most commonly used. Plastic stents are generally trouble-free; however, they tend to clog up, thus requiring an additional ERCP in order to remove the stent and replace it with a fresh stent. This type of stent is easy to use and can pass out of the body on its own through stool, or it may require removal by a physician via another ERCP. Metal stents are permanent and expand to a larger diameter once in place. If this type of stent becomes clogged, a plastic or another metal stent can be placed through the original stent. In expert hands, stent placement is very successful.

  • Stone Removal

    Stone removal is performed when stones are detected. The most common type of stone requiring removal is bile duct stone. Prior to stone removal, a biliary sphincterotomy (an incision is made to expand the opening of the bile duct) is usually performed. Once the incision is made, a physician can remove the stones with a special “basket” designed for stone removal or (s)he may manipulate the stone by using an inflatable balloon device designed to sweep the duct. Stones sometimes pass (into the duodenum) spontaneously after a sphincterotomy is performed; however, physicians generally attempt removal. Larger stones may need to be crushed before a removal attempt can be successful. This type of procedural technique is called a mechanical lithotripsy. Stones detected in the pancreatic ducts can be successfully removed; however, this type of stone removal is technically more complex.

  • Stricture Dilation

    A partial blockage or narrowing of the bile or pancreatic duct can be treated with hydrostatic balloon dilation (similar to that used in the arteries of the heart) during the ERCP procedure. The balloon is used to stretch and expand the duct. Dilation may also be achieved by using a graduated catheter passed over a guidewire.

Benefits, Risks and Side Effects

Most risks depend on the particular patient, disease and type of ERCP procedure and treatments. Complications occur in 5-20 percent of patients.

  • Pancreatitis

    Pancreatitis is the most common side effect of an ERCP. It occurs in 10 percent of ERCPs and generally requires hospital admission and generally settles in one to three days in almost all cases. The treatment for mild pancreatitis usually consists of restriction of oral intake to ice chips, intravenous fluids and analgesics (pain medications) as needed. Severe pancreatic damage can result in the formation of pseudocyst or abcesses, which may require a prolonged hospital stay. This occurs in less than one percent of patients. It can occur even in the most expert hands.

  • Bleeding

    Other important complications can occur after treatments such as sphincterotomy. A sphincterotomy can trigger bleeding, which can be controlled by the doctor during the ERCP. It is rare and uncommon for a blood transfusion to be needed. Sphincterotomy may result in a perforation when the cut extends into the tissues behind the duodenum and pancreas. Most perforations can be treated medically (with IV fluids, antibiotics and nasogastric tube). In severe cases, it may require surgery. On very rare occasions, the endoscope itself can cause a perforation (make a hole). This type of perforation usually requires surgical treatment.

  • Infection

    Infection can occur in the bile ducts or pancreas after ERCP, especially when there is duct obstruction that cannot be treated by the ERCP procedure. Antibiotics are required and possibly another type of drainage procedure such as surgery.

  • Other Side Effects and Risks

    The fluoroscope involves a small dose of radiation; this is no greater exposure than any other standard x-ray test and is well within the recommended limits. Possible drug reactions could occur with the medications and can cause nausea and skin reactions. About one percent of ERCP procedures can result in severe complication. These types of complications would require a prolonged hospital stay, treatment in an intensive care unit or surgery. Death rarely occurs.

Logo of the National Pancreas Foundation Centers

National Pancreas Foundation Center

IU Health University Hospital has been nationally recognized as a National Pancreas Foundation Center for the care of patients with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Clinical care facilities recognized by this foundation undergo a rigorous audit to ensure a focus on multidisciplinary treatment of pancreatic disease. These centers align their resources to meet every aspect of a patient’s care needs to ensure not only the best possible outcomes but to enhance quality of life. IU Health University Hospital is the only hospital in Indiana to receive this prestigious designation.

Learn more about the NPF Centers of Excellence