The type of surgery performed depends mostly on the location of the tumor in your pancreas. Your surgeon will recommend the procedure that removes the tumor and affected tissue while safely preserving as much of the pancreas as possible.
In a total pancreatectomy, the entire pancreas is removed. Similar to a Whipple procedure, a portion of the stomach, duodenum, gallbladder, and local lymph nodes are also removed. The spleen may be removed as well. This procedure is used when malignant cells have invaded most of the pancreatic tissue. Because the entire pancreas is removed, the patient becomes an insulin-dependent diabetic for life. For this reason, the procedure is rarely used.
Total pancreatectomy is sometimes used prophylactically to prevent onset of pancreatic cancer in patients found to have precancerous conditions like IPMN. While the procedure ensures pancreatic cancer will not develop in the future, it also guarantees insulin-dependent diabetes and should be discussed thoroughly and carefully with your physician.
Total pancreatectomy typically requires 5 to 7 hours.
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