There are many ailments attributed to the pancreas.  The following is a short list of some of the conditions of the pancreas that may affect patients and may require surgery:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Cystic Neoplasms of the Pancreas
    • Pancreatic pseudocyst
    • Serous Cystic Neoplasm
    • Mucinous Cystic Neoplasm
    • Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm (IPMN)
  • Pancreatic Islet Cell Tumors/ Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (PNETs)
    • ‚ÄčInsulinoma
    • Gastrinoma
    • VIPoma
    • Glucagonoma
    • Non-functional
  • Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma (Pancreatic Cancer)

Prior to surgery, patients may require further testing in the way of more imaging tests or biopsies that help us characterize the pancreas and surrounding structures better.  This allows us to offer you the best approach to treatment. Treatment may sometimes involve different types of doctors with expertise in different treatment modalities.  Surgery is indicated for one of two reasons.  Either patients manifest with symptoms which can include pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), malabsorption of foods, alterations in blood sugar biochemistry or the malignant potential of the lesions that we see within the pancreas is substantial.  Sometimes patients may have both problems.  Surgical intervention usually requires removal of the part of the pancreas that is diseased.  Due to the proximity of important structures to the pancreas this usually involves not only removal of the pancreas but also removal of some of these other organs as well.  Surgery of the pancreas is considered major surgery but is conducted quite safely today.  Procedures may include laparscopic or open techniques.  There are a number of good resources available that may provide in depth detail of the conditions and interventions of the pancreas.  Here are a list of links you may find helpful.  


The National Pancreas Foundation

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Pancreas Surgery

The pancreas is an organ located within the upper abdomen behind the stomach.  It is surrounded by and attached to many important structures within the abdomen.  Its function can be classified into two different parts: exocrine function (digestion of foods) and endocrine function (hormonal control - mostly of blood sugar).  

Exocrine function is a result of digestive enzymes that help break down fats and carbohydrates found within the diet.  These enzymes enter into to the intestines via the main pancreatic duct that runs along the length of the pancreas.  The main pancreatic duct actually connects with the main bile duct (common bile duct) to empty enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver into the first portion of the intestines known as the duodenum.  This is where digestion will take place. Diseases or surgeries resulting in a loss of production of these exocrine enzymes results in foods not being digested and patients may sometimes complain of greasy stools.  

The endocrine function of the pancreas works to produce hormones that are released into the blood stream and largely control blood sugar levels.  One of the more important hormones is called insulin.  Insulin is responsible for making sure that after a big meal blood sugar does not get too high.  Insulin will take sugar in your bloodstream and convert is to carbohydrates and fats for storage.  It is important to note that diseases and surgeries resulting in loss of the cells responsible for making insulin can result in diabetes.