The pancreases are one of the most ignored glands in the abdomen. However, they are an important part of the digestive system. Without efficient pancreas controlling blood sugar levels is very hard. Pancreatic cancer is one of the conditions that can affect his gland. It is a rare type of cancer but is very aggressive and has very few symptoms. Hence, in many cases, it is diagnosed only at an advanced stage. Pancreatic cancer can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. With advancements in the field of medicine, pancreatic cancer can also be treated with laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery is also known as minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery. This technique allows surgical procedures to be performed on the internal organs without making a large cut in the skin. Most laparoscopic procedures need only a 0.5 to a 1.5cm wide incision. As compared to an open surgery, laparoscopic procedures cause less discomfort and heal faster.
When it comes to pancreatic cancer, there are a number of laparoscopic procedures that can be used.
- Exploratory Laparoscopy - To determine the best form of treatment for pancreatic cancer, it is essential to determine the stage cancer has reached. Laparoscopy is very useful in such scenarios and can help assess the amount of damage the pancreas have undergone. Laparoscopy can also be used to detect the presence of any metastatic diseases before performing surgery.
- Laparoscopic Distal Pancreatectomy - The bottom half of the pancreas may be removed if a tumor is found in the body or tail of the pancreas. This procedure can be performed laparoscopically by making a 2.5cm to a 3cm incision. These tumors usually have a very low grade of malignancy. After the surgery, the patient will need to be hospitalized for 2 to 3 days.
- Laparoscopic Whipple Operation - Chronic pancreatitis or small endocrine or cystic tumors in the pancreas can be treated with a Laparoscopic Whipple procedure. This procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas and part of the body as well if need be. Parts of the bile duct, lymph nodes, gall bladder, stomach and small intestine that are near the affected part of the pancreas may also be removed.
- Laparoscopy for Palliative Surgery - In some cases, cancer may be too advanced to be addressed surgically. In such cases, palliative surgery is often recommended to relieve symptoms. One of the ways this can be done is with a laparoscopic bypass surgery. In this procedure, the bile flow is rerouted so as to skip the pancreas and flow directly into the small intestines. Such surgeries are advised only if the patient is in overall good health.