The Whipple procedure is the most common surgery for tumors of the pancreas. In recent years, it has been used more and more to treat pain and other complications of chronic pancreatitis, with a success rate of 70-80 percent.
The Whipple procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, part of the common bile duct and part of the uppermost loop of the small intestine. A small part of the stomach may be taken out as well. The surgeon rearranges the remaining parts of the digestive tract so that bile from the liver, pancreatic enzymes and stomach contents all empty directly into the small intestine.
When used in the treatment of cancer, the Whipple operation has a complication rate of 30-40 percent.
The Whipple procedure may be considered for cases of pancreas divisum and IPM tumors as well. The procedure's formal name is pancreaticoduodenectomy.