A newly studied cause of pancreatitis is intraductal papillary-mucinous neoplasm (IPMN). In the case of IPMN, cells lining the pancreatic duct transform into premalignant cells that produce mucous that blocks off the pancreatic duct so digestive enzymes build up, leading to inflammation and pancreatitis.
The tumor can involve the entire pancreatic duct, in which case the full pancreas must be removed through a pancreatectomy. For less involved cases, a smaller segment of the pancreas may be removed. The Whipple procedure allows for the removal of the pancreatic head. A distal pancreatectomy allows for removal of the body and tail of the pancreas. If only the body of the pancreas is affected, it may be removed while the head and tail are saved.