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What is Pancreatectomy?

Pancreatectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the pancreas. Pancreas is one of the main endocrinal organs in the body, most notable for producing insulin and other digestive juices. It may be partially or completely removed, depending on the underlying disease location.

A partial pancreatectomy is known as WHIPPLE PROCEDURE, in which part of the duodenum (i.e. uppermost part of the small intestine) is removed along with the head of the pancreas, or a DISTAL PANCREATECTOMY in which the tail of the pancreas is removed with or without the spleen. A CENTRAL PANCREATECTOMY (in which only the central portion of the pancreas is removed) or a TOTAL PANCREATECTOMY (removal of the entire pancreas) may be needed in special circumstances.

Who needs a pancreatectomy?

This surgery is most commonly performed for tumours of the pancreas, which may be benign or malignant. Some cases of chronic pancreatitis may also need a MODIFIED PARTIAL PANCREATECTOMY.
In some situations, like acute or chronic pancreatitis, a PANCREATIC PSEUDOCYST may form. This may also need surgical correction in the form of surgical CYSTO-ENTEROSTOMY.

How is this surgery performed?

Pancreatectomies may be performed laparoscopically or robotically. In cases of malignant disease (i.e. cancer of the pancreas), a conventional open surgery involving a large cut on the abdomen may be required to clear the whole disease. Robotic assisted distal pancreatectomy or splenectomy has the added advantage of increased incidence of preservation of the spleen and the tail of the pancreas respectively in comparison of laparoscopic technique for the same surgery due to higher precision and accuracy.

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