What To Expect After Surgery
When a patient undergoes The Whipple surgery, the procedure requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay of up to one to two weeks.
If your surgeon performs laparoscopic surgery, the scar on the belly will not be as large as if it was a traditional surgery. You may feel pain and soreness in the area for about the first week after surgery. You’ll will be prescribed medication for pain mangement.
Most patients return to work or their normal routine in about 1 month. It may take about 3 months until your strength is back to normal.
After surgery, you may need more cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. However, that depends upon your oncologist’s treatment plan and surgical success.
The function of the pancreas is to makes insulin and digestive enzymes that help digest food properly. After part or all of your pancreas is removed, most patients are prescribed medication to regulate their blood sugar. You may also need to add enzyme supplements to your diet to help digestion.
Follow up care is very important. Please make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions after surgery and post-op care.
Why It Is Done
The Whipple procedure is a surgical procedure to remove cancerous tumors from the pancreas. A Whipple operation is performed for
cancer of the head of the pancreas
cancer of the duodenum
cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the the bottom end of the bile)
cancer of the ampulla – an area where the bile and pancreatic duct enter into the duodenum.
whipple operation may also sometimes be performed for patients with benign (non-cancerous) disorders such as chronic pancreatitis and benign tumors of the head of the pancreas.
How Well It Works
According to recent studies, the overall survival after the whipple operation for pancreatic adenocarcinoma is about 20% at five years after surgery. Patients without spread of cancer into their lymph nodes may have up to a 40% survival. Candidates for The Whipple surgical procedure are patients with benign or low grade cancers of the pancreas. The success of any surgical outcome relies on many factors that include the health of the patient, the stage of the cancer, and the treatment approach by the oncologist.
The Whipple operation is a complex operation with a high chance of developing complications if the surgeon performing the surgical procedure has limited experience in this operation. In the hands of surgeons at Desert West Surgery who are experienced with this surgical operation the complication rate is usually very low.
The problems and complications that may be seen after this operation include:
Pancreatic fistula: After the tumor is removed from the pancreas, the remaining organ is sutured back into to the intestine so that pancreatic juices can go back into the intestine. The pancreas is a very soft organ and in some patients this suture line may not heal very well or may take a longer than usual time to heal properly. If this happens then patients develop leakage of pancreatic juice. Usually the surgeon leaves behind a drainage catheter in the abdomen during the surgery. Any leakage of pancreatic juice after the surgery is usually removed from the body by this drainage catheter. In most patients who develop leakage of pancreatic juice after the surgery, the leakage heals on its own. It is uncommon for patients to be re-operated for this complication.
Gastroparesis ( paralysis of the stomach): The first five to six days after the surgery, you will be provided with intravenous fluids until your bowel function returns. After your bowel function has returned your surgeon will start you on a diet of clear liquids and your diet will progress to a regular diet as you tolerate it.