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Pancreatic Surgery

The Nation's #1 Program in Robotic Pancreatic Surgery

Digestive Health Institute surgeons Dr. Alexander Rosemurgy and Dr. Sharona Ross are some of the most experienced doctors anywhere in performing surgery for pancreatic conditions and cancer. Together, the two of them have performed more than 1,000 pancreatectomies, or surgery to remove part of the pancreas. This has made them high volume performers of this challenging and involved surgery. Today, DHI performs more robotic pancreas operations than any other center in the country.

Seeing an experienced surgeon is important for patients who have a pancreatic cancer, tumor or cyst. This is because surgery often gives patients the best hope for a cure. Unfortunately, some patients are told they are not candidates for surgery when in reality a highly experienced pancreatic surgeon could take their cases. If you have been told that you could not have surgery for a pancreatic cancer, tumor or cyst, we hope you will consider seeing one of our surgeons for a second opinion.

A pancreatectomy is commonly used to treat these conditions:

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas)
  • Pancreatic cysts – Some pancreatic cysts and pseudocysts, such as mucinous cyst adenoma and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN), have a high chance of being or becoming cancerous.

Pancreatectomy Surgical Procedures

The pancreas has a head (lower side on the right) and tail (at the left side). The surgery used to treat the pancreatic condition is determined by the condition’s location within the pancreas.

The types of pancreatectomies are:

  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy, or Whipple procedure. This surgery is used to treat conditions affecting the head of the pancreas. It involves removing not only the pancreatic head, but also the gallbladder, part of the stomach, the first part of the small intestine, and some of the surrounding lymph nodes. The parts of the digestive system are then reconnected in such a way so that they can function without the head of the pancreas.
  • Pylorus-preserving pancreaticoduodenectomy (PPPD). This approach keeps intact the stomach and the pylorus, the valve where the stomach empties into the small intestine. There may be pros and cons to this pylorus-preserving approach. An experienced surgeon like Dr. Ross or Dr. Rosemurgy weighs all of the factors in a particular patient’s case and knows whether to recommend a Whipple procedure or a PPPD.
  • Distal pancreatectomy. This surgery is used to treat conditions affecting the tail or left side of the pancreas. It involves removing the left side of the pancreas. Distal pancreatectomy is usually performed along with a splenectomy, or removal of the spleen. This is done because at its tail, the pancreas shares blood vessels with the spleen. Unlike the Whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy does not remove the gallbladder and portions of the stomach and small intestine.
  • Total pancreatectomy. This procedure is similar to the Whipple procedure, but it involves removing the entire pancreas as well as the spleen. It is rarely used and only when pancreatic tumors affect both the head and tail of the pancreas.

Minimally Invasive Pancreatectomy

Dr. Ross and Dr. Rosemurgy's extensive pancreatic surgery experience now allows them to offer pancreatectomy as a minimally invasive surgery in many cases. The ability of patients to have minimally invasive procedures depends on their medical status and body mass index, where their tumors are, how close they are to key blood vessels and the biological nature of the tumors.

The two main minimally invasive approaches to pancreatectomy used at DHI include:

  • Laparo-Endoscopic Single Site (LESS) “Scarless” Pancreatectomy. Using very small surgical instruments, the surgeon operates through a single incision made in the patient’s belly button. In addition to less pain and a faster recovery, the surgical scar will be hidden in the belly button, making it appear as if the patient did not have surgery.
  • Robotic Pancreatectomy. Dr. Rosemurgy and Dr. Ross are accomplished in performing operations assisted by the da Vinci® Surgical System. DHI ranks as the nation's top center in volume of robotic pancreatectomies. This approach to pancreatectomy can give some patients with particularly complex cases the option of having minimally invasive surgery. Without the surgical robot, these patients would otherwise need an open procedure.

Pancreatectomy is a major surgery. Many patients experience temporary side effects after surgery that take some time to go away. However, having a minimally invasive surgery is much easier on patients than an open surgery with a large incision would be. A shorter recovery is especially important for cancer patients because it allows them to begin their next phase of treatment sooner.

If you need pancreatic surgery or would like a second opinion from a highly experienced pancreas surgeon, call DHI for an appointment at (813) 615-7557.



At DHI, we know that after being diagnosed with cancer, patients want and often need to begin treatment quickly. So we make it a priority to offer appointments for cancer surgery consultations within 5 business days, and often earlier. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion.

Patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer, or have just found out they have cancer recurrence, qualify for this priority access. Our surgeons will make themselves available to see you right away, even for a second opinion. We want to help you start your treatment as soon as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system, don’t wait.
Call the Digestive Health Institute at (813) 615-7440.

Learn more about our Surgical Cancer Care program.

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