Whipple Procedure Steps and Risks Explained

In this article, let us explore the complex treatment, Whipple Procedure steps and risks attached to it. Read till the end for a detailed understanding.

Also known as ‘Pancreaticoduodenectomy’, a Whipple Procedure is a surgical method used for Pancreatic Cancer.

Pioneered by Dr. Allen Whipple, this surgery takes an estimated time of 5 to 6 or sometimes 7 hours depending on the type of cancer.

Whipple Procedure Need For Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and is about six inches long. It is responsible for releasing digestive enzymes that break down sugars, fats, and starches and for producing insulin.

Usually, cancers detected in Stage-I can be surgically treated. It’s the same for Pancreatic Cancer. Whipple Procedure can be performed if cancer has not yet metastasized to other parts of the body.

Although a very complicated surgery, it is the only known way to treat Pancreatic Cancer.

Apart from Pancreatic Cancer, it can also be used for treating Pancreatitis, Pancreatic Cysts and other conditions that concern the pancreas, duodenum, and bile duct.

While its risk factors are high, it is effective in the long run as it ensures prolonged survival for those suffering from Pancreatic Cancer.

Related Links: Know More About Pancreatic Cancer.

Whipple Procedure Steps

The pancreas contains three parts- the head, body and tail. The head is connected to the duodenum which is a part of the small intestine.

When a tumor is found in the pancreas, it leads to blockage to its surrounding organs- like the bile duct, duodenum and pancreatic duct.

Because of this, the person starts turning yellow. This yellowish change in their body is one of the first symptoms to look for in pancreatic cancer.

In this surgery, the head of the pancreas along with the duodenum, common bile duct and the gallbladder is removed.

There are certain cases where a part of the stomach is also removed.

After the tumor is taken out, the organs are again carefully restructured inside to maintain the continuity and body’s physiological function.

This surgery can be performed by conventional open approach or by minimal access approach(laparoscopically or by Robotic surgery)

Whipple Procedure Risks

As mentioned before, this surgery is complicated and has a high amount of risk you should be well aware of.

  • There can be bleeding in the areas surrounding the pancreas that have undergone the surgery.
  • You are at potential risk of being diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Leakage from the pancreas or the bile duct is also possible.
  • Due to the incision made on the abdomen, you are vulnerable to infection.
  • You will also have some difficulty with your food consumption.

The most common forms of cancer treatments are chemotherapy and radiation. But these procedures have a deep impact on the immune system.

There are a lot of factors to consider if you are planning to go ahead with a Whipple Procedure. It’s best if you consult our Oncologists Dr. Lahari and Dr. Ajay Chanakya.

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