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July 14, 2010

Pancreatic cancer operation done laparoscopically


A bit of good news for those with pancreatic tumors: Johns Hopkins doctors did their first laparoscopic Whipple operation.

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

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Cancer


That's fantastic! I'm sometimes critical about JHH's preference for ultra-aggressive treatments, but I'm all for development and implementation of less-invasive procedures that can provide excellent results. I hope that the laparascopic Whipple can be duplicated and successfully implemented on a wide scale.

Wonderful. I had the Whipple in February and was wondering if they could ever go laparoscopic. Dr. Edil is a great surgeon and human being.

Bravo surgeons!

Praise God the tumor wasn't malignant.

I'm confused. Was the Whipple still done even though it turned out the patient didn't have cancer after all?

Cheryl- I just had it done three months ago and didn't have cancer.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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