Whipple Procedure

At the center of our bodies lies the pancreas, an essential organ that drives our metabolism. So when the pancreas is affected by cancer, tumors, pancreatitis, or other bile duct conditions, it’s vital that you receive the quality care and compassionate treatment you deserve.

Our goal is to treat cancer and other pancreatic conditions precisely and effectively. Despite being a rare procedure, Whipple surgery for pancreatic tumor removal offers the best chance for full recovery.

Whipple procedure, also known as pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a major surgical operation. Used mainly to treat cancer, the surgery is designed to effectively remove cancerous tumors from the pancreas.

The pancreas supplies metabolic enzymes to the duodenum and intestines, as well as insulin to the bloodstream. It is vital to maintaining a healthy metabolic and digestive wellbeing.  The Whipple procedure is complex, but it remains one of the most effective treatments for pancreatic cancers.

Though a laparoscopic approach to the Whipple procedure is available, most surgeons still perform it as an open surgery. This is to reduce the risk of complication, as surgeons will have better visibility and control if the surgery is performed openly.

Whipple procedure is a major surgical operation performed using a midline incision and general anesthesia. The procedure takes an average of five hours to complete.

Before the procedure, certain imaging techniques are used (CT and MRI scans) to detect the severity of the pancreatic cancer and pinpoint the tumor.

During Whipple surgery, your surgeon makes a large vertical incision down the center of your abdomen, exposing your digestive tract and vital organs. Because the pancreas is located behind the stomach, your surgeon will move your colon out of the way to reach the pancreas.

Before removal of the tumor takes place, your surgeon will have to cut the bile duct and duodenum, because they are directly attached to the head of the pancreas. After, your surgeon removes the head of the pancreas along with the pancreatic tumor and surrounding tissue.

Once the head of the pancreas and the duodenum is removed, reconstruction takes place. The remaining portion of the intestine (jejunum) is brought up and attached to the stomach, pancreas and bile duct to resume normal metabolic function.

As the reconstruction of the pancreas and digestive tract is completed, your surgeon examines the important blood vessels (inferior vena cava) and surrounding tissue to ensure they are not damaged, and that cancer has not spread.

Patients that undergo Whipple procedure are often placed in intensive care following surgery and are carefully monitored for complications. After a night in intensive care, patients are often sent to the hospital floor. Depending on health conditions and the recovery process, patients stay in the hospital for about a week after surgery.

At Providence, our surgeons, nurses, and caregivers work to ensure your surgery is performed in a comfortable and relaxing environment to avoid complications.

Because the pancreas is located deep within the abdomen, the Whipple procedure is a complex and difficult operation that may lead to complications. These include bleeding, infection and blood clots, bile leakage, as well as postoperative pain and digestive issues.