Pancreatectomy is a potentially curative option in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. With this procedure, the pancreas is partially or entirely removed. Total pancreatectomy surgery includes removal of not only the pancreas but also parts of other organs, including stomach, gall bladder, intestine, spleen, the biliary duct and some lymph nodes. On the other hand, partial pancreatectomy refers to the removal of certain parts of the pancreas such as tail (distal pancreatectomy), head (Whipple procedure), or body (median pancreatectomy).
Pancreatectomy is a major surgery, associated with significant morbidity/complication ranging from 30-60% chance even in the best surgical centres in the world. Distal pancreatectomy is associated with 1-3% mortality, while Whipple procedure is associated with 3-5% mortality. The important considerations are that the decision for pancreatectomy is well-discussed and risks/benefits are well explained. Such operations have better outcomes with high volume pancreatic centres or surgeons. Despite the surgical risks, pancreatectomy remains the only potentially curative option for patients with pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatectomy surgery is done to remove cancerous pancreatic tissue, but it can result in mild to severe complications, which can lead to death.
The complications resulting from pancreatectomy surgery depend on which part or which tissues of the pancreas are removed. Such complications can include the following:
As the pancreas is responsible for the secretion of some digestive enzymes, surgery of the pancreas may be associated with leakage of enzymatic juice, causing digestion or injury of other surrounding tissues and organs
Do discuss pancreatic surgery or pancreatic conditions with your doctor. Better outcome after pancreatic surgery is associated with high volume pancreatic centres and dedicated pancreatic surgeons.
Senior Consultant Surgeon
MBBS (Singapore), FRCS (Edinburgh), MMed (Surgery), MSc (Bioinformatics),
FAMS (General Surgery)
With 20 years of surgical experience, Dr Lee is trained and skilled in using minimally invasive techniques for liver, pancreas, gallbladder and hernia procedures.
His busy practice aside, Dr Lee is actively involved in postgraduate teaching and workshops for junior surgeons, and is still actively involved in academic research at the National University of Singapore.
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