The Whipple procedure is a common surgery for removing tumors in the pancreas. The surgery is seen as a cure to extend life for pancreatic patients.
Whipple procedure gets its name from Allen Whipple, MD, a Columbia University surgeon who first operated in 1935. Besides, in a classic Whipple procedure, the doctor will remove the head of the pancreas, gallbladder, duodenum, a portion of the common bile duct and part of the stomach. Thereupon, the surgeon reconnects the remaining pancreas and digestive organs.
Whipple procedure is a complex surgery and can have serious risks. However, a successful Whipple procedure turns out to be lifesaving for pancreatic patients.
Whipple procedure is a treatment option for the patients whose pancreas, bile duct or duodenum is affected by cancer. A surgeon will do tests on your body to understand the complexity of your case and then you will be suggested with the right treatment. If a tumor is in the head of the pancreas and has not spread to other parts of the body, the Whipple procedure might be the right treatment. In case the tumor has grown in the body and tail of the pancreas, distal pancreatectomy is performed.
Furthermore, the Whipple procedure is one of the best ways to provide long-time cure to pancreatic patients. What shocking to know is that about 30-50% of people who are eligible for the surgery are told otherwise. Which is why it is strongly recommended to go for institutions and doctors with a high volume of pancreatic surgery and a success rate. Your doctor will propose surgery to treat:
Whipple procedure is also known as Pancreatoduodenectomy. It is a complex surgery and it has risks and complications linked to it. Some of them are mentioned below:
If you go by popular recommendation, then it is best to consult a surgeon and hospital with a high volume of pancreatic surgery. The higher the volume of pancreatic surgeons with a high success rate, the more is a chance that you will get the best treatment, proper pre, and post-surgery care. The patient should do enough research regarding this and he should be mentally prepared before making a firm decision for the surgery.
Your surgeon will consider all the factors and tests after which he/she will recommend the best surgery. As it is not unknown that Whipple procedure is a complex surgery, your doctor will make sure that your condition and health is suitable for a complex operation. Further, he/she will recommend additional medical tests before taking the procedure ahead.
Below mentioned are the few ways in which Whipple procedure may be undertaken:
Even when minimally invasive surgery has a lot of plus points like lower blood loss and chances of infection for the patient, it is a time-consuming procedure. Besides, there can be cases in which the procedure begins with minimally invasive surgery however due to technical difficulty the doctor may be conditioned to make an open incision to finish the operation.
A surgical team including pancreatic surgeons, nurses, anesthetists, and anesthesiologists come together to perform the Whipple procedure. Once the patient is comfortable, the surgeon makes incision based on his approach and the patient's condition. The procedure usually begins with removing the head of the pancreas, duodenum, gall bladder and a portion of the stomach. Pylorus-preserving Whipple is a type of procedure in which the entire stomach and the stomach valve are kept the same way. Thereafter, the surgeon reconnects the remaining pancreas and digestive organs. The surgery typically takes four to twelve hours.
Once the surgery is completed, your doctor will suggest what's best depending upon your health. These are some of the recommendations:
The patient has to be calm and composed throughout the whole process. If you are feeling any sort of discomfort or stress, you should always discuss it with your loved ones. Sometimes the patient is given treatment before or after surgery such as neoadjuvant therapy and adjuvant therapy. The therapy aims to kill the remaining cancer cells that may still be present to prevent the tumor to circle back again. Know that clinical trials are available for pancreatic patients seeking neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy.