If there’s a problem with your pancreas, the simplest solution may be to remove part or all of the organ. Since different parts of the pancreas can be affected, and because it is optimal to keep some of the pancreas in the body if possible, there are a few different types of pancreas surgeries that can be performed. Today, we take a closer look at a few different types of pancreatectomy operations.
A pancreaticoduodenectomy is an operation that works to remove the head of the pancreas. This is often performed to treat pancreatic cancer, as about 75 percent of pancreatic cancers develop in the head of the organ. The procedure involves removing part of your pancreas, your duodenum, your gallbladder and part of your bile duct. The goal of the operation is to remove the entire tumor while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
The Whipple Operation
The Whipple procedure is named for Dr. Allen Whipple, who developed the technique. The Whipple procedure is exactly the same as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, except the surgeon will also remove part of the stomach. The stomach is then reattached to the bowel, which connects to the remaining tail end of the pancreas. The procedure can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to complete, and again is generally performed in order to remove a tumor or cancerous growth.
A distal pancreatectomy is a procedure the focuses on removing the tail end of the pancreas while preserving the head. The operation is oftentimes performed to treat tumors or cancer in the area, but it can also be needed if disease develops in the tail of the pancreas. Since the tail of the pancreas is located near the spleen, sometimes a splenectomy is also performed and both the pancreatic tail and the spleen are removed. This procedure can oftentimes be performed using minimally invasive techniques, which is much less taxing on the patient and leads to a quicker recovery. A distal pancreatectomy can usually be performed in about 2 to 4 hours.
As the name implies, a central pancreatectomy is an operation that involves removing the middle part of the pancreas, while leaving the head and the tail of the organ. It is such a specialized procedure that only a few hospitals and surgeons in the nation can perform the operation. It is performed to remove cancer or tumors, and by leaving the head and tail, the patient is at a decreased risk for developing insulin-dependent diabetes. The procedure takes about 2 to 4 hours to complete.
A total pancreatectomy involves removing a number of different organs in your endocrine system, including the entire pancreas. The surgeon will also remove your duodenum, part of the stomach, your gallbladder, part of your bile duct, your spleen and some of the surrounding lymph nodes. It is performed when disease or cancer has taken hold of the pancreas and there is no part worth saving. Since the insulin-producing pancreas is removed, the patient will become dependent on insulin for the rest of their life. It takes about 5 to 7 hours to perform a total pancreatectomy.