HomeHealth articlesminimally invasive pancreatectomyWhat Is Minimally Invasive Pancreatectomy?

Minimally Invasive Pancreatectomy - Indications, Contraindications, Procedure, and Complications

Verified dataVerified data

4 min read


Pancreatectomy is the surgical procedure to remove a diseased part or entire pancreas from the human body. This article is about minimally invasive techniques.

Written by

Dr. Anahita Ali

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Pandian. P

Published At October 5, 2022
Reviewed AtMarch 22, 2023


The pancreas is an organ in the human body located in the abdomen that produces various hormones and enzymes. Multiple conditions may damage the pancreas, such as cancer, inflammation, infection, and so on. Its main function is to produce hormones and enzymes that help in regulating blood sugar levels.

When conventional therapies fail to treat the pancreas related disease or condition, surgical removal of the organ is indicated. Traditionally, it is done through open surgery. However, nowadays, minimally invasive techniques have been developed that are widely used, for example, laparoscopic pancreatectomy, robotic pancreatectomy, and many more.

What Is Pancreatectomy?

It is the surgical procedure to remove a diseased part or entire pancreas from the human body.

What Is Minimally Invasive Distal Pancreatectomy?

It is a minimally invasive surgical removal of the distal part of the pancreas, which includes the tail and body of the pancreas.

What Is the Pancreas?

It is an organ in the human body located in the abdomen that produces various hormones and enzymes.

What Are the Functions of the Pancreas?

The pancreas produces various chemicals that help in digesting food. In general, the functions are:

  1. Exocrine Function: Pancreas produces trypsin and chymotrypsin, two important enzymes for protein digestion. It also produces amylase for carbohydrate digestion and lipase for fat breakdown. It is the primary function of the pancreas.

  2. Endocrine Function: Pancreas has islet cells, also called cells of Langerhans, that produce insulin hormone and glucagon. These help in maintaining blood sugar levels.

What Are the Anatomical Considerations for Pancreatectomy?

The pancreas has five parts:

  • The head is the widest part.

  • The uncinate process is present under the body.

  • The neck is the thinnest part of the organ.

  • The body separates the pancreas from the stomach.

  • The tail is the most mobile part.

The pancreas has a duct that carries pancreatic juice to the stomach. It is fused with the bile duct and, together with the bile duct, creates a common opening that drains into the duodenum.

The pancreas receives blood supply from various arteries such as the splenic artery, hepatic artery, pancreatic vein, and many others.

What Are the Types of Pancreatectomy?

  1. Distal Pancreatectomy: The tail and body of the pancreas is removed surgically. Sometimes, the spleen is also removed.

  2. Total Pancreatectomy: Entire pancreas, pancreatic duct, and a part of the stomach is removed.

What Are the Indications of Pancreatectomy?

The indications of total pancreatectomy are:

  • Tumors in which the head of the pancreas is diseased.

  • When the surgeon fails to obtain cancer-free margins of the pancreas.

  • When the surgeon fails to join the two ends of the pancreas surgically after removing the duodenum and a part of the pancreas.

  • Recurrent cancer of the pancreas.

  • Bleeding from the pancreas is a complication.

  • A patient who has a family history of pancreatic cancer.

  • Severe pain because of inflammation of the pancreas.

The indications of distal pancreatectomy are:

  • Benign or harmless cancer of the pancreas involves the body and tail.

  • Chronic inflammation in the body and tail of the pancreas.

  • Formation of cyst-like structure in the tail of the pancreas.

  • Fistula formation.

What Are the Contraindications of Pancreatectomy?

  • Presence of medical illness or other conditions.

  • Coagulopathy (a bleeding disorder in which the blood clot is not formed).

  • Highly obese patients.

  • Patients with a history of major surgery on their abdomen.

  • Cancer of the pancreas in which the doctor cannot remove all the diseased parts.

  • Involvement of vascular structures.

How Is Pancreatectomy Done?

The pancreatectomy is done through two techniques:

1. Open Pancreatectomy -

  • General anesthesia is given to the patient.

  • An incision or a cut is made on the abdomen of the patient. Generally, the incision is made through the skin, and the tissues and it crosses the midline of the stomach.

  • The abdomen is exposed, and the internal structures are retracted using various retractors such as Omni-tract, Bookwalter, and others.

  • The pancreas is exposed. Depending on the type of pancreatectomy, total or distal, the part of the pancreas or complete pancreas is cut and removed.

2. Laparoscopic Pancreatectomy -

  • It is a minimally invasive procedure.

  • General anesthesia is given to the patient.

  • Multiple incisions, generally four to five incisions, are made on the patient's abdomen. These incisions are made at different locations.

  • A camera is inserted through one incision.

  • Instruments are inserted through another incision.

  • With the help of the camera, the surgeon visualizes the internal organs and locates the pancreas.

  • The pancreas is cut and removed.

What Are the Patient Selection Criteria for Minimally Invasive Pancreatectomy?

The following factors play an essential role in planning pancreatectomy:

  • Experience of the surgeon.

  • The overall health of the patient.

  • History of previous major surgery.

  • Fat distribution in the patient’s body (body mass index).

What Are the Advantages of Minimally Invasive Pancreatectomy?

  • It preserves the surrounding healthy tissues.

  • Fast recovery time.

  • Less scarring or scar formation.

  • Less bleeding during and after surgery.

  • Low risk of complications after surgery.

What Are the Complications of Minimally Invasive Pancreatectomy?

In general, the complications after pancreatectomy are the same as any standard surgical procedure, such as:

  • Fistula Formation - The chances of fistula development are up to 60 % after surgery. A fistula is an abnormal connection between two structures or organs.

    • Compromised blood supply of the spleen results in necrosis and tissue death. This is called splenic infarction.

    • Slowing of the food movement in the stomach. This is called delayed gastric emptying.

    • Leakage in an anastomosis (a connection created surgically between two ends of an organ).

    • Excessive internal bleeding between the organs in the abdomen results in intra-abdominal hemorrhage.

    • Infection in the wound or surgery site.


Minimally invasive pancreatectomy is a widely used surgery over traditional pancreatectomy because of its various advantages. It is indicated in several conditions, such as tumors of the pancreas, severe inflammation, and many others. However, multiple factors related to the doctor and the patient play an essential role before planning the surgery. In addition, it is a highly complicated surgery that requires advanced skills and an appropriate approach.

Frequently Asked Questions


Which One Is Better: Minimally Invasive Pancreatoduodenectomy or Open Pancreatoduodenectomy?

Minimally invasive distal pancreatoduodenectomy is associated with better short-term outcomes compared with open pancreatoduodenectomy.  This technique can be performed using laparoscopic, robotic, or hybrid techniques. The minimally invasive distal pancreatoduodenectomy has less intraoperative blood loss, shorter hospital stay duration, and lower morbidity as compared to open pancreatoduodenectomy.


Can a Person Lead a Normal Life After a Pancreatectomy?

A person who undergoes pancreatectomy surgery can have a normal life without any complications. The individual may feel pain in the days following the surgery, and it may take several months for the patient to fully recover. The individual will have to take medicines to fulfill the functions of the pancreas in the body.


Can Pancreatic Surgery Be Done Laparoscopically?

Laparoscopic surgery is a procedure in which the surgeon can access the inside of the abdomen without making any big incisions on the body. Moreover, in recent times, laparoscopic surgery for benign and malignant pancreatic lesions has gained popularity and is being introduced in various healthcare facilities, and it has been found that this approach is better than open surgery.


Is Pancreatic Surgery Life-Threatening?

Pancreatic surgery may be associated with some serious complications which may or may not be long-term complications. The complications can also occur due to the loss of other organs that are removed along with the pancreas during this procedure. Some of the complications may include - 
- Diabetes.
- Compromised immunity.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.


Can the Pancreas Grow Back After Removal?

The chance of pancreas regeneration is very minimal after clinical removal of it. It is only seen in cases where a portion of the pancreas is removed or the pancreas is injured. Moreover, the regeneration of the pancreas is largely restricted to young children and young animals. And adult animals or humans have very little tendency to regenerate their pancreas.


Is Pancreatic Surgery Painful?

Pancreatic surgery can be painful as the other organs are also removed during the process or rearranged during the procedure. Moreover, the patient may feel some discomfort and pain for weeks or months after the surgery. If the pain is severe it may be an indication of infection and have to be checked immediately.


Are Minimally Invasive Surgeries Safer?

Minimally invasive surgeries are considered much safer than open surgeries. As in minimally invasive surgeries, the procedure is done using smaller incisions and is generally less risky than open traditional surgeries. In these surgeries, the surgeons use the assistance of small flexible cameras and lights to see inside the body.


What Is the Recovery Period After Total Pancreatectomy?

Total pancreatectomy is a major surgery and the recovery takes time. The full recovery after this procedure usually requires six to eight weeks or two months. The patient is asked to avoid any extensive movements and has to take bed rest. Additionally, the patent may receive vaccines such as pneumovax and H. flu to help fight infections.


What Foods Should Be Avoided After Pancreas Surgery?

After the pancreatic surgery, patients should take the following precautions -
- Avoid high-fat, greasy, or fried foods.
- Eat six to eight small meals and snacks daily to prevent feeling overly full.  
- Take small sips of liquids with meals.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Taking the prescribed pancreatic enzyme replacement products along with meals and snacks.


What Is the Success Rate of Pancreatic Surgery?

The success rate of pancreatic surgery depends upon the type of surgery. The patient undergoing open surgery may have a survival rate of up to 25 percent. Moreover, the patients who got operated on in small hospitals have a 15 percent chance of dying due to surgical complications. 
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Pandian. P
Dr. Pandian. P

General Surgery


minimally invasive pancreatectomy
Community Banner Mobile
By subscribing, I agree to iCliniq's Terms & Privacy Policy.

Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Do you have a question on

minimally invasive pancreatectomy

Ask a doctor online

*guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. iCliniq privacy policy