The pancreas is an extremely important organ in the human body, it performs several vital functions. A pancreatic surgery is needed in case curing the organ malfunction is beyond the scope of oral medication and therapy.

Pancreas And Its Function

The pancreas is a spongy organ of about 6 to 10 inches long that is located behind the stomach in the upper left side of the abdomen. It is a fish-shaped organ and is surrounded by the liver, spleen, and small intestine. It is a unique organ as it performs two different functions both as endocrine as well as exocrine gland.

As an exocrine gland

The exocrine glands of the pancreas secrete digestive enzymes. These include trypsin and chymotrypsin for digesting protein, lipase for breaking down fat, and amylase for digesting carbohydrates. The pancreas is connected to other digestive organs, though the common bile duct.

As an endocrine gland

The islets of Langerhans comprise the endocrine component of the pancreas. These release 2 important hormones, namely insulin, and glucagon. The prior hormone causes the blood sugar to lower, whereas the latter one causes it to elevate. This balance is extremely important for proper function of brain, kidneys, and liver.

Risk Factors For A Malfunctioned Pancreas

There are several risk factors that make an individual highly susceptible to acquire some pancreatic diseases. These factors are-

  • Being obese

  • Being female

  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle

  • Having diabetes

  • Being over the age of 40 for men

  • Being pregnant

  • Having a personal or family history of gallstone

  • Having liver diseases

  • Using oral contraceptives

  • Having certain medical conditions such as leukemia or sickle cell anemia

Diseases Of The Pancreas

There are several diseases that can arise due to a malfunction of the pancreas and its function. Some of the severe issues of the pancreas, which needs proper, timely treatment are as follows

  • Pancreatitis- A condition in which the enzyme of pancreas begins to digest itself and causes inflammation. It can either onset over a long period of time (chronic pancreatitis) or onset rapidly in a short period of time.

  • Pancreatic duct stones- the calcium deposits in the pancreas cause pancreatic stones to form. It causes the backflow of the digestive enzymes and is mostly associated with chronic pancreatitis. It can ultimately block the common bile duct and trigger even more complicate diseases

  • Precursors of pancreatic cancer- Before the pancreatic cancers onsets, the organ develops few tumors as a warning sign. In this regard, the Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms (IPMNs) and Pancreatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PanIN) are usually considered as a precursor of pancreatic cancer.

  • Pancreatic cancer- When the pancreas tumor becomes malignant, it begins to spread to the other organs as well. The most common pancreatic cancer is the pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

The Special Case Of Diabetes

Diabetes is a medical condition closely associated with the function of the pancreas. Though diabetes is not a life-threatening disease like the above-mentioned ones, it still hampers the quality of life significantly. Diabetes onsets when either the pancreas fails to produce insulin or when the body fails to reach to the produced insulin. Either way, the blood sugar level of the individual rises drastically and starts to cause several other problems such as poor vision, the problem of blood clotting, chances of foot amputation and others.

Symptoms Of Pancreas Illnesses

A diseased pancreas can exhibit a range of symptoms, depending upon the severity of the disease and overall health condition of an individual. Here are some of the common symptoms of the same, except for diabetes.

  • Nausea and vomiting,

  • Irregular heartbeat, mainly rapid pulse

  • Tender and swollen abdomen

  • Fever

  • Pain in the upper abdomen, which often spread to the back,

  • Having pain while eating, especially the high-fat content food

  • Jaundice

  • Dark urine

  • Pale stool

  • Sudden unexplainable weight

  • Feeling tired and lethargic

  • Loss of appetite

Diagnosis Of Diseased Pancreas

These are several types of diagnostic approach to estimate the condition and degree of illness. These are as follows

  • Physical exam

  • Blood test

  • MRI

  • CT scan

  • PET scan

  • Abdominal ultrasound

  • Endoscopic ultrasound

  • ERCP

  • Tumor market test

  • Laparoscopy

  • Biopsy

  • PTC

Treatment For Diseased Pancreas

The treatment approach is very different depending on the particular condition and overall health. For example, for type 1 diabetes, insulin shots are administrated, for type 2, oral medication is often sufficient. On the other hand, lithotripsy is recommended for pancreatic stones. Lithotripsy is a noninvasive procedure, in which the shock waves are used to crush and disperse the stones, which cannot be removed otherwise.

Pancreatic Surgery

Pancreatic surgery is done extensively in case of pancreatic cancer itself. There are basically two categories of pancreas cancer

Potentially curative surgery- In case, cancer can be removed from the organ.

Palliative surgery- In case, the spread of cancer is beyond entire removal. It is done solely to relieve the individual of the symptoms and complications.

In the prior genre, there are three procedures that are carried out, namely

  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy- the surgeon removes the infected head of the pancreas, sometimes along with minor nearby organs such as gallbladder, small intestine, bile duct, stomach, and lymph node. The remaining organs are attached together suitably such that it continued to perform its function.

  • Distal pancreatectomy- the surgeon removes the infected tail of the pancreas, sometimes with a portion of spleen as well.

  • Total pancreatectomy– the surgeon removes the infected pancreases long with the spleen and some portion of nearby organs. Even though the patient faces some major readjustment in terms of medicine and lifestyle, he/she can lead a healthy life otherwise.

These procedures were done mainly by open surgery approach, for a long time. However, nowadays, some experts can carry out these through the laparoscopic approach as well. In this method, the results are much better and satisfying. In Bangalore, people are enjoying perks offered by laparoscopic surgeries.

Disclaimer – The information contained in this website is based on the results which the existing patients have got after treatment. However, results may vary from case to case.