(Central Pancreatectomy; Distal Pancreatectomy; Total Pancreatectomy)
The pancreas is an important structure in your abdomen that makes enzymes. One type of enzyme helps aid in food digestion. Another type helps regulate sugar levels in the blood.
This is surgery to remove the pancreas. In this procedure, all or part of the pancreas can be removed. In some cases, other nearby structures may also be removed, such as:
Reasons for Procedure
This procedure is most often done to treat pancreatic cancer.
If you are planning to have a pancreatectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, such as:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
The pancreas produces many necessary digestive enzymes and helps regulate blood sugar. When part of the pancreas is removed, long-term complications may result, such as:
Discuss these risks with your doctor before surgery.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Leading up to the procedure, your doctor may do the following:
Talk to your doctor about your medicines, herbs, and dietary supplements. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
You should arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV.
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will make an incision in the abdomen. The affected part of the pancreas, as well as other affected areas, will be removed. The doctor will close the incision with stitches or staples.
Tubes may be placed that come out of the abdomen. A tube will drain fluid from the surgery site. Another tube may run from the intestines and out of the abdomen to give you nutrition.
If only a part of the pancreas needs to be removed, your doctor may do the surgery laparoscopically. Small incisions will be made and a camera will be inserted. This will help the doctor see inside the abdomen to remove the affected part of the pancreas.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be taken to the recovery room. While you are there, your breathing tube may be removed.
How Long Will It Take?
The surgery can take 4-8 hours, depending on what part or how much of the pancreas is removed.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Pain or soreness during recovery will be managed with pain medicine.
Average Hospital Stay
You may need to stay in the hospital from five days to three weeks. This depends on the extent of your surgery. If you have any problems, you will need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
At the hospital, the staff will:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Cancer Institute
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Canadian Cancer Society
Pancreatic Cancer Canada
Allendorf J. Surgical options. The Pancreas Center. Columbia University Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.columbi... . Updated November 2010. Accessed April 2, 2013.
Pancreatic cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreaticcancer/index . Accessed April 2, 2013.
Learn about pancreatic cancer: surgery. Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website. Available at: http://www.pancan.... . Accessed April 2, 2013.
Pancreatectomy. University of California, San Francisco website. Available at: http://surgery.ucs... . Accessed April 2, 2013.
Disease information. Baylor College of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.bcm.edu/pancreascenter/index.cfm?pmid=9291 . Updated March 15, 2013. Accessed April 2, 2013.
Pancreatic cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated March 26, 2013. Accessed April 2, 2013.
Surgical techniques for pancreas preservation. Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases, University of Southern California website. Available at: http://www.surgery... . Accessed April 2, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD