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What Is A Whipple Medical Procedure?

Whipple procedure or pancreaticoduodenectomy refers a complicated operation to remove the pancreas’ head, bile duct, gallbladder and duodenum i.e. first part of your small intestine. Even though the surgical procedure is a difficult one and involves many big risks, it acts as a lifesaving option for individuals suffer from pancreas cancer.

What Is A Whipple Medical Procedure?

What is a Whipple Medical Procedure?

Whipple medical procedure is useful for the treatment of individuals suffer from various disorders in intestines, pancreas and bile duct, including tumors and cancers. We know that pancreas is one of the vital organs in humans, which appear in the upper abdominal area of individuals or beside the stomach. It performs its functions closely with the liver and bile ducts to release enzymes helpful in the digestion of food items, particularly protein and fats.

Even the pancreas secretes essential hormones to manage your blood glucose levels. Considering each of the essential functions performed by pancreas, doctors often use Whipple procedure to treat pancreatic cancer, as it remains confined to only pancreas head. Once the surgeon completes Whipple procedure, he reconnects other organs to help you in the digestion of food normally after your surgical procedure.

Scope of Whipple Medical Procedure

Doctors often recommend for Whipple medical procedure for the treatment of-

  • Pancreatic cysts
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic tumors
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Ampullary cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Trauma to small intestines and pancreas
  • Small bowel cancer
  • Any other disorder, including tumor of duodenum, pancreas and bile ducts

Objective of Whipple Medical Procedure

The main objective behind this type of surgical procedure related to cancer treatment is to remove pancreas tumor and avoid its growth or spread to any other organ. This treatment results in prolonged survival and an effective cure for majority of tumor problems.

Various Ways to Perform Whipple Procedure

Doctors mainly use the following ways to perform Whipple medical procedure:

Open Surgery

In case of an open surgery, your surgeon incises your abdomen to access the pancreas, which is a common and a frequently studied approach to the surgical procedure.

Laparoscopic Surgery

During your laparoscopic surgery, your surgeon performs a large number of small incisions in the abdominal area and inserts a special type of instrument consisting of a camera device to transmit video towards a connected monitor in the operation room. Surgeon thus watches the connected monitor to guide varieties of surgical tools to perform the actual surgery. Surgeons perceive laparoscopic type of surgery as a minimally invasive surgery.

Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery is also a minimally invasive type of surgery, where surgical tools remain attached to a robot i.e. a mechanical device. Surgeon has to sit nearby the console to use hand control features to direct the respective robot. Surgical robots may use tools across corners and tight spaces, where human hands may become too big to give the required effects.

Common Risks of The Whipple Medical Procedure

Whipple medical procedure is of technically difficult and it involves open surgery, while carries risks during as well as after your surgery. These include the following-

  • Bleeding at various surgical areas
  • Infection within your abdomen or in the incision areas
  • Delay in the empty of your stomach, which creates difficulty in eating food or keeping the food down on a temporary basis.
  • Leakage from your bile ducts and pancreas
  • Temporary or permanent type of diabetes mellitus

Results and Conclusion

Your chance related to long-term survival post Whipple medical procedure depends mainly on your specific situation. In case of most of the pancreas cancers and tumors, the mentioned surgery is the only helpful cure or treatment.


  1. Mayo Clinic: Whipple Procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy). https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/whipple-procedure/about/pac-20385054
  2. Cleveland Clinic: Whipple Procedure. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/7064-whipple-procedure
  3. American Cancer Society: Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/treating/surgery.html

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 31, 2023

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