Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Today, with the advancement in medical sector, a person may live without his/her pancreas. However, doctors recommend for removal of pancreas only when an individual suffers from a severe health condition, like pancreatic cancer or recurrent type of pancreatitis. In most of the cases, medical treatments are able to perform the activities performed by pancreas. However, patients living without their pancreas compulsorily require diligent monitoring and appropriate medical care.

How Long can you Live without a Pancreas?

How Long Can You Live Without A Pancreas?

Numbers of years a patient lives without a pancreas depends on one's individual condition. However, in general we should say that one could lead a normal yet healthy life if one follows proper lifestyle, brings certain changes in the diet plan and takes appropriate medical care as well as commits to intake insulin as per the requirement.

Total pancreatectomy is the surgery performed to remove the entire pancreas from patients. Moreover, as other organs remain present close to pancreas, surgeons may even remove –

  • Initial part of one’s small intestine referred as duodenum
  • A part of the patient’s stomach and his/her bile duct
  • Spleen and gallbladder
  • Specific lymph nodes present nearby the pancreas

Living after Total Pancreatectomy Surgery

After your total pancreatectomy surgery, you have to make the necessary changes in your diet and lifestyle. These include-

Monitor Blood Sugar Level and Intake Insulin

As your body no longer able to produce the required amount of insulin for controlling your blood sugar, you suffer from diabetes mellitus condition. In this situation, you have to take steps related to monitoring your blood sugar. For this, you have to intake insulin injections/pill on a regular basis and in some cases; doctors may replace injections with an insulin pump.

Moreover, your doctor advice you having several small number of meals in a day to avoid any huge spike in your blood sugar levels. Along with this, you have to avoid alcohol and drugs strictly to maintain your long-term health. On the other side, if you are traveling somewhere, it is essential for you to carry an appropriate glucose source to deal with blood sugar dips appropriately.

Intake of Enzyme Replacement Pills

With the complete removal of pancreas, your body fails to produce enzymes required for the digestion of food. Hence, you have to intake digestive enzymes with each of your meals to make sure about proper absorption of your food. Even in some cases, doctors recommend you taking an enzyme replacement pill with your every time you have your meals.

Diabetic Diet Plan and Physical Exercise are Essential

With the aim to stay healthy for a long time even with total pancreatectomy, you have to follow a diabetic diet plan. This means, you have to include everything, which has low percentage of sugar or carbohydrate. On the other side, you have to make sure avoiding your low blood sugar condition. Hence, you have to intake green leafy veggies, fruits and whole grains in small amounts for a number of times in a day to keep the sugar level steady. Other than this, it is essential for you to discuss with your doctor and a physical trainer to perform physical exercises on a daily basis.

What Is The Function Of A Pancreas?

Pancreas in humans refers to a gland located in the abdominal area beneath the stomach. It shapes like a big tadpole with circular head and a tapered thin body, while the head of pancreas is of curve shape within the duodenum i.e. beginning part of one’s small intestine. Body of any pancreas remains present between the spine and the stomach. Pancreas has two different types of cells responsible to produce different type of substance.

Exocrine cells produce necessary enzymes helpful in the digestion of food present in your intestine. Chymotrypsin and trypsin break down various protein substances present in the food, while amylase helps in the digestion of carbohydrates and lipase plays a major role to break down fat substances.

Endocrine cells produce different hormones, like insulin, somatostatin, glucagon and pancreatic polypeptide. Insulin lowers the blood sugar, while glucagon increases it to maintain a perfect balance of glucose in your body.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: December 18, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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