A Whipple Procedure is also known as a Pancreaticoduodenectomy.
The operation consists of removing the gallbladder, part of the bile duct, the duodenum, the head of the pancreas and sometimes the lower portion of the stomach. After the surgical removal of these organs, the remaining portions of the organs must be reattached for proper digestion. The surgery generally lasts for around four to six hours. The Whipple Procedure is a major surgical procedure.
The most common indications include:
- Cancer of the head of the pancreas
- Cancer of the duodenum
- Cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile duct)
- Ampulla cancer–area where bile and pancreatic duct enters the duodenum
- The Whipple operation may also sometimes be performed for patients with benign (noncancerous) disorders such as chronic pancreatitis and benign tumors of the head of the pancreas
What happens before surgery?
After a workup by your primary physician or gastroenterologist (stomach and intestine specialist), you will have to go for surgical consultation.
A thorough clinical history has to be elicited and a physical examination has to be done. Your surgeon will discuss with you your diagnosis and if surgery is indicated for you. You may need to undergo further testing before a decision can be made. If the diagnosis is cancer, you will also be referred to an oncologist.
You will undergo preoperative testing including lab work, chest x-ray and other imaging examinations.
Depending on your situation, your doctor may talk with you about possible surgeries. The final decision will be made by you and your gastroenterologist and surgeon.