The Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) is an operation to remove the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), the gallbladder and the bile duct. The remaining organs are reattached to allow you to digest food normally after surgery.
A Whipple procedure may be a treatment option for people whose pancreas, duodenum or bile duct is affected by cancer or other disorder. A Whipple procedure to treat:
The goal of doing a Whipple procedure for cancer is to remove the tumor and prevent it from growing and spreading to other organs. This is the only treatment that can lead to prolonged survival and cure for most of these tumors.
A Whipple procedure may be done in various ways:
Minimally invasive surgery offers some benefits, such as lower blood loss and a quicker recovery in those without complications. But it also takes longer, which can be hard on the body. Sometimes a procedure may begin with minimally invasive surgery, but complications or technical difficulty require the surgeon to make an open incision to finish the operation.
After your Whipple procedure, you can expect to:
Most people are able to return to their usual activities four to six weeks after surgery. How long it takes you to recover may depend on your physical condition before your surgery and the complexity of your operation.
Chances of long-term survival after a Whipple procedure depend on particular situation. For most tumors and cancers of the pancreas, the Whipple procedure is the only known cure.