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Distal pancreatectomy

The role of a general surgeon includes the removal of suspicious masses throughout the body. Patients may have had a radiographic study for other reasons such as after a trauma. If a mass is seen, it needs appropriate testing. This may include other radiographic studies, an upper endoscopy, lower endoscopy, or a needle directed biopsy. Despite testing, sometimes masses remain concerning by radiographic means without the ability to get an adequate tissue sample. If the mass is felt to have a high likelihood of being malignant, it is often removed as if it were a cancer. In other cases, the mass has been proven to be cancerous and deemed small enough to excise without undue risk to the patient. Prior to any surgical procedure patients should discuss their treatment options with an oncologist and a surgeon to decide on the appropriate treatment.

Part of the decision on whether or not to operate depends on the health of the patient. Patients with few, or at least well controlled, medical problems who are currently active with an appropriate weight do best in extensive surgical procedures. Frail patients with poorly controlled medical problems, poor nutrition, and a limited life expectancy may not tolerate an extensive procedure. These patients usually have a complex recovery period requiring physical therapy and may require long-term rehabilitation.

The ability to fully resect the mass and obtain adequate margins is the most important aspect to consider prior to surgery. For many cancers, a partial resection does not provide any increase in longevity. Therefore, it is imperative the surgeon be sure she can fully resect the potential cancer prior to operating to ensure the patient doesn’t undergo an unwarranted risk or complication. This is especially true of pancreatic masses.

For masses well circumscribed within the pancreatic tail, a distal pancreatectomy is usually appropriate. In this procedure the surgeon will remove approximately half of the pancreas to be sent to pathology. Most patients will not require insulin although they can have an extended recovery, as this is still a complex abdominal procedure.

Patients throughout Florida have trusted Dr. Jenna Kazil and the Florida Surgical Clinic for all their general and vascular surgical needs. Dr. Kazil is a skillful surgical specialist that has developed an impressive track record for combining the latest surgical treatments available with the warmth and compassion to ensure every patient and their loved ones have all of the information before moving forward. Patients living on the West coast of Florida from Tampa/Brandon to Sarasota looking for a superlative surgical specialist should contact the Florida Surgical Clinic to schedule an appointment.