What Happens During a Whipple Procedure
The Whipple Procedure is a complex operation for the treatment of cancer arising from the head of the pancreas, bile duct, or duodenum. During the performance of the Whipple Procedure, the head of the pancreas, duodenum, and common bile duct are removed (resected) and reconstructed as described in the videos below.
What Is the Whipple Procedure?
The surgery involves removal of the head of the pancreas and the nearby organs including the duodenum, the lower part of the stomach, the upper part of the small intestine, the gallbladder, the bile duct and sometimes the surrounding lymph nodes.
Reconstruction is then completed to ensure continuity of the digestive system by creating a bypass for food to move from the stomach to the small intestine. The hepatic duct is then attached to the jejunum to allow the flow of digestive juices from the pancreas to the gastrointestinal tract.
Whipple Procedure Operative Steps
- The head of the pancreas is taken out.
- The gallbladder is also removed.
- Part of the bile duct is removed.
- A portion of the upper part of the small intestine is taken out.
- Part of the bottom of the stomach is removed.
- The remaining portion of the stomach is connected to the small intestine.
- The leftover part of the pancreas is connected to the small intestine or jejunum.
- The remaining portion of the bile duct is connected to the small intestine.
A typical Whipple Procedure will take three to eight hours, depending on the complexity of the operation and the complications that may arise during surgery.
Recovery After the Whipple Procedure
Immediately after surgery, you will spend the first night in an intensive care unit, after which you will stay an additional seven to 10 days at the hospital. You will be fed through a tube during the first few days post operation.
It may take about two months to completely recover after a Whipple Procedure. You can expect to experience some fatigue and tiredness, and you may also experience a little pain near the site of the incision.
Your appetite during this time will also be low. And to have your digestive system recover quickly, we will start you on a diet with clear liquids while slowly progressing to your regular diet. However, you should refrain from greasy and fried foods. Your surgeon may recommend taking antacids and pancreatic enzymes as needed.
It is prudent to have a journal where you can record details of your diet, weight changes and any other information that may be useful. This will help your doctor manage your long-term treatment and recovery.
Whipple Procedure Side Effects
Immediately after a Whipple Procedure, some patients can develop serious complications. One of the most common complications includes the development of leakages from the site of surgery. Other possible complications include bleeding, infections and trouble with the stomach emptying its contents after a meal.
When used in the treatment of cancer, the Whipple Procedure has a success rate of 80%, a complication rate of 20% and a mortality rate of less than 1%. Complications after a Whipple Procedure are the same as those of any other surgery depending on the severity of the cancer and the overall health of the patient.
Choose Dr. Fraiman at the St. Joseph Medical Center in Baltimore, MD
Dr. Mark Fraiman is an expert in Whipple Procedures, and he has the expertise and training to successfully perform liver and pancreas surgeries. Dr. Fraiman treats his patients using a multidisciplinary, comprehensive and patient-centered approach. If you or someone you know is considering the Whipple Procedure, contact Dr. Mark Fraiman today.
The videos below describe the Whipple Procedure in detail. Dr. Mark Fraiman is the expert pancreatic and Whipple Procedure surgeon in Baltimore, with the extensive experience and training necessary to perform this surgery with great success.