In medicine, a pancreatectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the pancreas. Several types of pancreatectomy exist, including pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple procedure), distal pancreatectomy, segmental pancreatectomy, and total pancreatectomy. These procedures are used in the management of several conditions involving the pancreas, such as benign pancreatic tumors, pancreatic cancer, and pancreatitis.
It is performed for a variety of reasons, including:
- Severe hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia
The most common surgical procedure involving removal of a portion of the pancreas is called a pancreaticoduodenectomy.
Among common consequences of complete or nearly complete pancreatectomy are deficiencies of pancreatic endocrine or exocrine function requiring replacement of insulin or digestive enzymes. The patient immediately develops type I diabetes, with little hope for future type I diabetes treatments involving the restoration of endocrine function to a damaged pancreas, since the pancreas is either partially or completely absent. Type I diabetes can be treated with careful blood glucose monitoring and insulin therapy. Because the Pancreas is responsible for the production of many digestive enzymes, a pancreatectomy should only be given as an option for pancreatic disease which is life threatening, such as pancreatic cancers. It is very important to note that even after a pancreatectomy, pain still exists in most patients.
A distal pancreatectomy is removal of the body and tail of the pancreas.
Prognosis for patients living without a pancreas is very poor. Without the endocrine hormones (glucagon, insulin, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide) or the exocrine enzymes (trypsin, chymotrypsin, pancreatic lipase and amylase) a patient would be on a lengthy regimen of medications and would be severely limited in his diet.
An adjunct procedure called islet cell transplantation exists to help mediate the loss of endocrine function following total pancreatectomy.