Surgery of the Pancreas is not easy. Since this flattish eel like organ is hidden from all sides by stomach, duodenum, colon and pancreas and vital structures such as the aorta, vena cava and splenic vessels, the exposure of the organ requires skill and meticulous dissection. More importantly, it requires sound judgement.
It is important for a common man to know the following points regarding pancreatic surgery of the various conditions in the pancreas:
- Pancreatic surgery has been made more comfortable by use of laparoscopy in many situations. A Pancreatic pseudo cyst and pancreatic stones, for example are good cases for laparoscopic treatment whereby a patient is spared the trauma of a large incision. This translates into minimal pain and wound complications and the patient usually goes home within a few days.
- Whipples procedure – done for tumors/ cysts of pancreatic head – used to be a formidable procedure in the past with significant complication rates. Recently, the operation has been made quite safe with improvement in technique and technology. Watch us doing the procedure on YouTube.
- Sometimes in acute pancreatitis, much of the organ can undergo auto-destruction and get infected. This is life threatening and may need removal (Necrosectomy) from the body for the survival of the patient. Recently, these surgeries can be increasingly performed by endoscopy or laparoscopy in select circumstances. Only experts should perform this surgery under laid down principles for reasonable outcome. A sound judgment in the decision making is vital.
The following diseases can affect the Pancreas:
- Pancreatitis – This disease can happen suddenly or stay in some patients for life. The latter is usually seen in patients consuming alcohol but it may happen without any known cause. When they happen suddenly (sometimes due to gallstone disease or alcohol), it may be either a mild disease recovering in a week or it may have a severe course (where the pancreas undergoes self destruction) needing treatment (drugs and surgery) for weeks and months. In many cases, the patient may not even survive.
- Cysts – Usually seen in the younger population, a timely detection and surgical intervention can completely eradicate the disease.
- Tumors/ Cancers – They have a good outcome only if detected early.
- Stones are not uncommon in the pancreas. Many patients can be treated on medical therapy, some require endoscopy and few need surgery.
While patients and their relatives get increasingly concerned hearing and reading about pancreatic surgery, the good news is that it is becoming increasingly safer and more comfortable to perform these operations. This is due to technology such as laparoscopy and endoscopy, availability of improved IV nutrition and some antibiotics. Surgical expertise has also increased that has brought down the complication rate drastically.
The only thing the patient needs to do is to recognize his disease early and get treated by the right doctor.*
*Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is based on the results which the existing patients have got after treatment. However, results may vary from case to case.