On January 7, 2008, step inside the operating room at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and watch as H. Richard Alexander, M.D., an internationally recognized surgical oncologist and a professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, performs a Whipple procedure on a patient with pancreatic cancer.
If the pancreas cancer has not spread beyond the pancreas, surgery is a viable option for patients. The Whipple, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a lengthy and complex surgery that is designed to remove the cancer completely. It typically takes more than six hours to complete and involves removing the head of the pancreas, which is found deep inside the abdomen. In addition, part of the bile duct, the gallbladder and the duodenum are removed. Once this part is finished, reconstruction is then required so that the pancreas, the intestine and the remaining bile duct are connected, allowing the patient to eat and digest normally. This surgery is an example of a Pylorus-Preserving Whipple since the stomach is not removed. Often the Whipple will include the removal of a portion of the stomach.