What is Whipple Surgery?

Whipple surgery

is an advanced surgery performed on pancreatic cancer patients. It is mainly done to remove cancerous tumors on the head of the pancreas or malignancy in the common bile duct and upper end of the duodenum.

How Whipple Surgeon Perform this Procedure?

Whenever the head of the pancreas is removed it becomes necessary to remove the duodenum too. This is because the head of the pancreas and the duodenum share the same arterial blood supply (common artery). Mortality (Death rate) from the Whipple procedure is less than 5% in the United States.

Apart from the removal of cancerous tumors from pancreas, bile duct , duodenum a part of

Whipple surgery

is also connecting back the stomach, pancreatic duct and bile duct to the small intestine. Hence, it is also a reconstructive surgery.

When is Pancreatic Whipple Surgery Recommended?

This surgery is recommended when cancerous cells are restricted to a small area and have not spread. This procedure is advisable only when the surgery can ensure removal of all the cancer cells in the affected area. While removing the cancer in the head or the main part of the pancreas, partial removal of the pancreas and spleen is not unheard of.

This is a procedure which requires a lot of post operative care and concern. Even though the mortality rates have come down, post operative complications affect around 30% of the patients. These complications could be moderate to severe.

Post Operative Complications of the Whipple Procedure

  • Post operative infection in the wounds and leaking of pancreatic enzymes and gastric juices are very common. However, it can be brought under control quite effectively with antibiotics.
  • Diabetes may be detected or existing diabetes may become worse.
  • Nausea can make things harder as it is persistent until the stomach movement and function kicks in.
  • Substantial loss of body weight (around 10% -15%) is very common in post operative recovery. It takes a considerable period of time before one gets close to ones healthy body weight. There is no definite explanation as to why this happens.
  • Whipple surgery

    does not ensure a cancer free life. However, under given conditions it is a well known line of treatment which often yields good results.

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