Pancreatic cancer operation done laparoscopically
Generally, these six or seven-hour operations are highly invasive. The patients are cut all the way up the abdomen and parts of several organs are removed: the head of the pancreas, gallbladder, common bile duct and part of the duodenum, stomach and small intestine.
The surgery leaves a big scar that can become infected.
But the surgeons, Martin Makary and Barish Edil, were able to avoid the big incision. The had been doing parts of the Whipple operation laparoscopically – through tiny incisions – but never the whole thing. They gave it a try when a 43-year-old North Carolina woman asked them to. They had warned her that it might not be possible.
When she awoke, she had three small bandages on her belly. And the fist-sized tumor turned out not to be malignant. She didn’t have cancer.
Other doctors have performed such a surgery, but this is a first at Hopkins, where the procedure is considered one of the signature surgeries. Perhaps more could be done this way?
It would cut down on hospital stays and reduce the risk of infection.
Graphic courtesy of Johns Hopkins