Liver and Pancreas Surgery Options

Surgical treatments for liver and pancreatic disease:

Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy)
The Whipple procedure, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, involves removing the gallbladder, head of the pancreas, part of the duodenum (part of the small intestine), part of the stomach and the common bile duct. Once those organs are removed, the pancreatic duct, bile duct and stomach are connected to the jejunum (another part of the small intestine) in order for pancreatic juices, bile and food to be drained into the small bowel. This procedure may be performed for a variety of reasons, most commonly for cancer of the pancreas, common bile duct or duodenum.

Distal pancreas resection
When masses in the pancreas involve the tail of the pancreas, a distal pancreas resection is required. Since the spleen is close to the tail of the pancreas, surgeons may have to remove the spleen as well. We typically perform these procedures using minimally invasive techniques. Thes techniques result in less post-operative pain and shorter hospital stays.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a relatively new technique, which uses a "heating probe" to destroy cancer cells. Using an ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan as a guide, the surgeon inserts several thin needles through small incisions in the abdomen. When the needles reach the tumor, they're heated with an electric current, destroying the malignant cells. The procedure can be performed laparoscopically (by camera), percutaneously (through the skin) or through a standard incision (open). RFA has relatively few side effects, and patients can usually go home 24 hours after being treated.

Nonsurgical therapies:
If surgery and radiofrequency ablation are not good options, Providence specialists will recommend the best radiation and chemotherapy treatments to slow the growth or reduce the size of tumors.

Physicians can deliver cancer-fighting radiation directly to liver tumors by injecting them with millions of tiny beads coated with a safe radioactive element called yttrium90. These beads block blood supply to the tumor, destroying cancer cells.

Tumors that respond to radiation, chemotherapy or yttrium90 can sometimes then be removed surgically. In some cases, patients are also eligible for a liver transplant.