Preserving the Pancreas:
This is a highly specialized operation that is performed in very few centers in the United States. This operation is performed when there is a benign tumor in the part of the pancreas called the neck of the pancreas.
The neck of the pancreas is a difficult area for surgeons since the standard operation performed in many centers would remove excessive amounts of normal pancreas to clear the tumor in this area. Patients often undergo removal of 85% of the pancreas with a distal pancreatectomy to remove the tumor in this area.
The option offered at USC is a procedure called central pancreatectomy and this procedure is performed to preserve as much of the pancreas as possible to prevent complications such as diabetes mellitus. In this procedure only the tumorous part of the pancreas is removed. The body and tail of the pancreas that is preserved is then sutured into the intestine so that the flow of pancreatic juices into the intestine is maintained.
This procedure is performed with a specific intent of preserving pancreatic tissue and avoiding complications such as diabetes and malabsorption of nutrients that develop due to deficient amounts of pancreatic enzyme. The types of pancreatic tumors that would qualify for this type of an operation include benign tumors such as cystic neoplasms of the pancreas and islet cell tumors of the pancreas.