Pancreatectomy is a partial or entire removal of the pancreas. In cases where the whole organ must be removed, the gallbladder and spleen might also be removed in the process. Removing parts of the bile duct, small intestine, and stomach is also sometimes necessary.
When is a pancreatectomy performed?
A pancreatectomy is commonly performed to help treat cancer, tumors, pancreatitis and gallstones. Surgery is usually the best treatment option for patients with pancreatic cancer, but an early diagnosis is essential. Those diagnosed at a later stage are at a higher risk of mortality because surgery will no longer be an effective treatment once the cancer metastasizes (spreads to other organs).
Gallstones and chronic pancreatitis may also be treated with a pancreatectomy. Chronic pancreatitis is extremely painful and can lead to irreversible damage to the organ. This condition can be caused by gallstones as well as alcohol consumption.
Risks Associated with Pancreas Surgery
- Excess Bleeding
- Bad Reaction to Anesthesia
- Pancreatic Anastomotic Leaking
- Delayed Gastric Emptying
- Preparing for the Procedure
Tests that might be conducted before surgery include ultrasonography, radiographs, CT scan, angiography, and ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangeopancreatography). These tests will help your doctor arrive at an accurate diagnosis and give your surgeon the information needed to carefully plan the procedure in advance.
Patients with pancreatic cancer may also undergo chemotherapy before the surgery. Chemotherapy can help shrink any tumors that may be present, decreasing the surgery risks and increasing the rate of success.
Patients are hospitalized for two to three weeks after the surgery is performed. Hospitalization allows doctors to closely monitor the patient’s recovery and provide the necessary follow up treatment. Pain medications will be prescribed for abdominal pain.
Check-ups will be required for monitoring the progress of recovery and to remove stitches, tubes, and other materials used during the procedure. Pancreatic cancer patients may also have to undergo chemotherapy.
Pancreatectomy is a major surgical procedure and potentially life-saving. You can talk to your doctor about pancreatic treatment options and make an appointment with an experienced abdominal surgeon at Bay Surgical Specialists for more information on the topic.