A pancreaticoduodenectomy is another name for the Whipple procedure. Most cancer patients know what is a Whipple procedure as it is the most common surgical treatment for pancreatic cancer that has spread to the gland’s head. In this procedure, the pancreatic head, duodenum, and a section of the intestine, gallbladder, and accompanying lymph nodes are the organs that are being removed. This type of operation is used to remove pancreatic cancer and is determined by the tumor’s location. A Whipple procedure is used to treat malignancies of the head and neck of the pancreas. This procedure is quite complicated.
The Whipple procedure is a complex and demanding procedure that comes with serious risks. However, this method can save a person’s life, especially if they have Pancreatic cancer.
Whipple Procedure and its Benefits.
The Whipple Procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas, the distal bile duct, and a few other segments. Part of the stomach and adjacent veins and/or arteries may be removed for some patients. The procedure is usually done through a single incision in the upper belly, but multiple smaller incisions can also be done. The purpose of a Whipple procedure is to extend a patient’s life or, in some cases, to cure them of cancer. The goal for certain patients may be to prevent or reduce symptoms such as discomfort or bile duct or stomach blockage.
What is the Purpose of this Procedure?
People with Pancreatic cancer or other disorders of the pancreas, duodenum, or bile duct may benefit from a Whipple Procedure. The pancreas is a vital organ located in the upper abdomen, positioned behind the stomach. It works in cooperation with the liver and bile ducts. The pancreas produces (secretes) enzymes that aid digestion, notably lipids and proteins—hormones produced by the pancreas aid in blood sugar regulation.
The primary purpose of the Whipple Procedure for Pancreatic cancer is to extract the tumor and limit its spread to other organs. For most of these malignancies, this is the only treatment leading to prolonged Whipple procedure survival rate and cure.
Who Can Have the Whipple Procedure Performed on?
The Whipple procedure and subsequent surgeries are only available to roughly 20% of pancreatic cancer patients. Patients with tumors localized to the head of the pancreas that hasn’t migrated to neighboring major blood arteries, the liver, lungs, or the abdominal cavity are considered in this category. Identifying potential candidates for the Whipple surgery usually necessitates extensive testing.
A few patients may be candidates for a laparoscopic Whipple procedure, which involves a series of small incisions rather than a single big incision. Laparoscopic surgery might result in less blood loss: a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, and fewer complications than the traditional procedure.
The Whipple procedure isn’t an option for the 40% of newly diagnosed patients whose cancers have metastasized beyond the pancreas. Only a tiny percentage of patients with a locally advanced illness that has migrated to nearby sites such as the superior mesenteric vein and artery, or those whose tumors have gone to the body or tail of the pancreas, are candidates for this procedure.
What are the Alternatives to a Whipple Procedure?
Yes. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or even a clinical trial are alternatives to the Whipple procedure that may be preferred in some cases. Patients should assess the risks and benefits of a Whipple procedure, as with any treatment, and choose the treatment choice that best fulfills their goals, prolonging life and improving quality of life.
What are the Potential Risks of the Whipple Procedure?
The Whipple procedure is a technically challenging procedure that frequently requires open surgery. Both during and after the process, it entails dangers. Among them are:
- Surgical wounds bleed profusely.
- Infection in the location of the incision or inside the abdomen
- Delayed stomach emptying, making it difficult to consume or keep food down for a short period.
- bile duct connection or pancreatic leakage
- Temporary or long-term diabetes
How to Get Ready for the Whipple Procedure?
Because the procedure alters the structure of the upper gut so dramatically, it is frequently linked to significant weight loss. As a result, they are gaining weight before the operation is advised if at all possible. Additionally, exercising to strengthen both the abdominal wall muscles and the hip flexors, which are crucial for walking, is part of the “prehab” procedure to prepare for the surgery. The faster a person can walk after surgery, the less likely they will develop complications like pneumonia, blood clots, or even bed sores.
What to expect after the Whipple Procedure and after recovery?
The Whipple procedure steps and the procedure are undeniably uncomfortable. This procedure is quite tricky due to the size of the organ involved, as it is being altered and removed. The organ nearby of the pancreas to nerves exiting the spine is being changed during this procedure. The Whipple treatment typically takes 4 to 6 hours to complete.
The surgeon can numb the wound over the midline of the abdomen, where the incision is made, by inserting filaments under the skin that produce a numbing substance like lidocaine. Pain medication can also be administered intravenously in the hospital, and it can be continued in pill form after the patient is discharged if the physician recommends it. Discuss if the Whipple procedure is worth it, what to expect throughout your recovery from the Whipple procedure with your doctor, as well as what they prescribe for pain management.
How can Someone tell if the Whipple Procedure was successful?
In the operating room, your surgeon will be able to tell whether they could remove the tumor from the pancreatic head without leaving any malignancy behind. It is not always likely to remove a malignant tumor from surrounding arteries and veins due to the complicated junction of tissues in the area being operated on, notably the blood vessels running around the pancreas.
Any tissue taken during the Whipple surgery is transported to a pathology lab to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist, a specialist specializing in interpreting laboratory tests and analyzing cells, tissues, and organs to identify disease. The pathologist examines the tissue’s margins, or boundaries, for malignant cells. This can be a time-consuming process, and the Whipple procedure recovery takes days to complete.
Finally, after being discharged from the hospital, the person who had the Whipple procedure usually has a follow-up appointment. First, the doctor will check to see if they are healing and recovering properly. A follow-up visit will be scheduled later to check that the malignancy has not returned. This process of observation can endure for years. Following the operation, chemotherapy may be taken to lower the risk of the Pancreatic cancer returning. However, to make any process successful you need to work on your body and the best way to do this is taking the Whipple procedure diet and medicines as prescribed by the doctor.
Patients must balance the timing of the surgery with any other therapies they may be undergoing to achieve the best results. It’s not enough to declare that a Whipple procedure can be performed on a specific patient. And our specialists at University Cancer Centers regularly collaborate to ensure the most satisfactory outcomes for our patients. Visit University Cancer Centers and learn more about the Whipple procedure and how it can affect the quality of life.