Pancreas is an important organ in the digestive system and is located behind the stomach. Pancreas performs both endocrine function and exocrine function. As an endocrine gland, pancreas secretes insulin that regulates the blood sugar levels in the body. As an exocrine gland, pancreas secretes enzymes and other digestive juices that break down the left over food in the stomach.
If there are any problems with the regulation of insulin levels in the body, it leads to diabetes. Other problems with the improper functioning of pancreas include acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatitis is a disease caused by the acute or chronic inflammation of pancreas. Inflammation of pancreas occurs when the duct from pancreas is blocked by gemstones or tumour. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic.
Acute pancreatitis develops suddenly and is mainly caused by the gallstones. The pain usually lasts for a few days to weeks. It can be cured with the fluids and pain killers. If the acute pancreatitis causes any secondary infection or does not respond to medication, a surgery needs to be performed. The laparoscopic surgery used for treating acute pancreatitis is called Pancreatic Necrosectomy.
In some cases, inflammation of pancreas can cause pancreatic cysts. Pancreatic cysts are small the pockets of fluids in the pancreas. Most of the pancreatic cysts may not be cancerous. If the cysts are able to be drained in the stomach, a surgery called Cystogastrostomy is performed. During this surgery, an opening is made between pancreatic cyst and stomach.
Chronic pancreatitis occurs due to the repeated occurrence of acute pancreatitis and it can permanently damage pancreas. It is a long term medical condition that may last for months to several years. Cysts may develop due to the chronic pancreatitis, which blocks the duct that carries the juices and enzymes to stomach. This blockage can make it difficult for the body to digest food and also affects the blood sugar levels.
The doctor conducts some medical tests to determine the pancreatic enzymes in the body. Based on the test results, the doctor suggests proper medication to reduce the pain and to improve the functioning of digestive system. If the pain does not reduce with the medication, a surgery might be performed. Lateral pancreaticojejunostomy (LPJ) is the apt procedure to treat chronic pancreatitis. This procedure is used to unblock the duct and drain the cysts.
Pancreatic cancer is caused by the formation of cancerous cells in the tissues of pancreas. Pancreatic cancer does not show any symptoms until it spreads to the other organs of the body. The doctor suggests the treatment options based on the severity of the pancreatic cancer. The best treatment option for the pancreatic cancer is a surgery, which removes the cancer cells or the entire pancreas.
The Whipple procedure is the most common surgery performed to remove the pancreatic cancers. It is also called as Pancreatoduodenectomy. This surgery is performed if the cancer is within the pancreas and has not spread to other organs of the body. This type of surgery is based on the location of the cancer.
Laparoscopic whipple procedure is also performed to some people. During this surgery, small cuts are made on the wall of abdomen. A tube called laparoscope is inserted through one of the cuts, with a light and camera. The blood loss and the risk of infections is less with the laparoscopic procedure.