The pancreas are a critical organ due to its role in digestive and endocrine function. Surgery for pancreatic conditions marks either tumors of the pancreas or conditions that cause inflammation (pancreatitis). Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. In either case, the medical team can often manage the patient's condition medically. However, compromised pancreatic tissue can wither or become infected. If the condition is severe or longstanding and resists conservative therapy, surgery may be necessary. Pancreatic tumors are uncommon, they may be either infectious or benign. Infectious tumors in this organ bring with them such a serious prognosis that they are one of the leading causes of cancer death. Pancreatic cancer can sometimes be treated through surgery.
Surgery of the pancreas most often involves removing the infected portion of the organ. These surgical procedures are major operations, requiring several hours in the operation theatre. Patients remain in the hospital for about a week after the surgery and will need several weeks to more fully recuperate. Other surgical procedures for pancreatitis include fluid drainage from the pancreas or surgical opening of the pancreatic duct. In some cases, the surgical team can perform pancreatic surgery by laparoscopy. This makes the duration of surgery and recovery shorter.
The pancreas is surrounded by a lattice of nerves and by other essential organs, and is therefore sensitive from a pain-management perspective. Some patients will require repeat operations to remove the diseased areas of tissue, resulting from severe pancreatitis. In addition, many patients develop diabetes if they have lost a significant portion of their pancreas to pancreatitis or pancreatic surgery. This may partly or largely resolve, giving appropriate time.
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