A pancreatectomy is a surgical procedure that removes all or part of the solid organ in your abdomen known as your pancreas. Your pancreas is responsible for the production of several enzymes and hormones in your body and it helps with your digestive processes. However, when your pancreas becomes impacted by abnormal growths, trauma, inflammation or a cancerous process, it may need to be removed. Your body can continue functioning without your pancreas; however, you will need to take certain medicines when you no longer have your pancreas.
A procedure known as a distal pancreatectomy removes just a part of your pancreas (usually the body and the tail) and sometimes an adjacent organ known as your spleen. The word “distal” implies that an anatomical structure is farther away from the center of your body—the body and tail of your pancreas represent the distal portion of your pancreas and your spleen is technically distal to your pancreas, as well. In some cases, a distal pancreatectomy is chosen over a total pancreatectomy because it can preserve part of your pancreas and its function.
A pancreatectomy can be performed for many different reasons, including:
If you have strong risk factors for pancreatic cancer, a pancreatectomy may also be performed as a way to prevent you from developing the condition.
A pancreatectomy can be performed in many different ways. At Advanced Laparoscopic Associates, we take care to use the surgical approach that is most appropriate for every patient’s particular situation, and we excel at keeping surgeries as minimally invasive as possible using laparoscopic and robotic techniques.
During a typical pancreatectomy, a surgeon makes an incision and fills a patient’s abdomen with gas so that the pancreas and spleen are clearly visible. This can help the surgeon decide how much of the pancreas or spleen need to be removed and whether to proceed with a minimally invasive laparoscopic approach or an “open” approach. If a laparoscopic approach is used, two other incisions are made to allow for a camera, surgical instruments and the surgeon’s hand. The surgeon carefully removes the designated portion of the solid organs and then closes the abdomen back up. This type of surgery typically lasts between three and four hours.
Recovery time from a pancreatectomy depends on the type of procedure used and on a patient’s underlying health and other medical conditions. Patients can usually expect to be hospitalized for several days while recovering. Patients may have a surgical drain in place to help with fluid removal and healing and they may have food restrictions, as well. Pain medications can be used to ensure comfort. After leaving the hospital, patients will still have restrictions for several weeks—including lifting restrictions—and they may require specialized follow-up care to ensure they are fully improving.
At Advanced Laparoscopic Associates, we are experts at solid organ surgery. We operate in a thoughtful, evidence-based manner to ensure the best outcomes and best recovery periods for our patients.
To learn more about our pancreatectomy techniques and other solid organ surgical procedures, contact us today.
For additional information, all prospective patients are invited to attend a free educational seminar.
Seminars are a great source of information about the procedure you are considering, and they allow you to meet the surgeons as well as ask any questions you may have. You may also have the opportunity to meet some post-operative patients.