Whipple Surgery

Also known as pancreaticoduodenectomy, the Whipple surgery refers to a complicated surgical procedure performed at Max Hospital, India for removing the head of the pancreas, which is the first part of the small intestine, the gallbladder, and the bile duct. This procedure is useful for treating tumors as well as other pancreatic disorders, of the intestine and bile duct. Whipple surgery is the most often used operation to successfully treat pancreatic cancer, which is confined to the head portion of the pancreas. Post Whipple procedure, the surgeon usually joins the rest of the organs to allow the patient to digest food normally after the surgery.

Symptoms

Doctors usually recommend Whipple surgery for the treatment of the following disorders:
  1. Pancreatic cancer
  2. Pancreatic tumors
  3. Pancreatic cysts
  4. Bile duct cancer
  5. Pancreatitis
  6. Neuroendocrine tumors
  7. Ampullary cancer
  8. Small bowel cancer
  9. Any trauma to the pancreas or small intestine
  10. Other tumors or disorders involving the pancreas, small intestine or bile ducts
The objective of performing the Whipple surgery is to remove the pancreatic tumor as well as prevent it from growing or spreading to other organs in the body. It is the only treatment for prolonged survival as well as a cure for most of these tumors.

Medical Tests or Diagnosis

Some of the techniques that are recommended by doctors for detecting pancreatic cancers are ultrasound, CT (computerized tomography) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and, at times, PET or positron emission tomography scans.

Pre-Surgery Precautions and Post-Surgery Recovery

Before the surgery, patients are advised to be careful about their dietary habits, their health conditions, and should seek advice from their doctors regarding the intake of regular medications. Patients are also advised on various foods that they can or cannot consume.After the surgery is done, the patient needs to stay in the hospital for around eight to ten days. During this phase, doctors monitor the health conditions of the patient carefully. Doctors perform a series of tests to check if all the cancer was removed and nothing left in the lymph nodes. Post a Whipple surgery, the most common complication often noticed is delayed gastric emptying. The patient may need feeding through a feeding tube in case of a prolonged condition. The most serious complication of a Whipple surgery is an abdominal infection due to leakage where the pancreas is connected to the small intestine. It is referred to as a pancreatic leak or pancreatic fistula.

Hoe is Whipple Surgery done?

A Whipple surgery is performed through various ways such as:
  1. Open surgery, where an incision is made in the patient's abdomen by the surgeon to access the pancreas
  2. Laparoscopic surgery, where surgeons make several small incisions in the patient's abdomen and then insert a unique instrument attached to a camera that transmits video to a monitor within the Operation room
  3. Robotic surgery, a minimally-invasive surgery where surgical tools are connected to a robot or a mechanical device. It is suitable for restricted parts of the pancreas where human hands are ineffective to reach.

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