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Wipple Surgery Whipple Procedures

Updated on November 21, 2012

Whipple Procedures

Wipple Surgery, a common misspelling of Whipple Surgery

Last year, a member of my family underwent the Whipple surgery. In the time leading up to the wipple procedure, I researched the procedure in order to get an understanding of the process, the results, whipple surgery recovery time and possible complications.

I found that information was either overly medical in nature, to specific or underdeveloped. This article is an attempt to bring together information and resources into one easily understandable format.

I am not a doctor, all information is being put forth in laymens terms by a laymen and is no substitute for the advice of your doctor.

That being said, all sources except for the anecdotal relating to the experiences of my loved one, are clearly cited.

Wipple Surgery
Wipple Surgery

Actual procedure involved during Whipple Surgery

This procedure involves the removal of the gallbladder, the head of the pancreas, the common bile duct, the first and second parts of the duodenum and portions of the stomach (the distal segment)

The duodenum is part of the small intestine, portions of the stomach are not always removed, the surgeons then reconstruct parts of the digestive tract

The Whipple Procedure broken down by process.

  1. The end of the stomach is divided off and detached. This part the stomach leads to the small intestine, where the pancreas and bile duct both attach
  2. The cancerous head of the pancreas is cut, leaving it attached to the small intestine.
  3. Farther down from the pancreas attachment site, the small intestine is divided to free the section of the intestine that is connected to the pancreatic head.
  4. The bile duct is cut. This leaves the gallbladder and common bile duct attached to the removed section.
  5. Reconnect the intestinal tract. The stomach is connected to the small intestine, and the bile duct and remaining portion of the pancreas are reattached.
  6. Several tubes may be implanted for postoperative care. To prevent tissue fluid from accumulating in the operated site, a temporary drain leading out of the body will be implanted. Also, a G-tube leading out of the stomach will be inserted to help prevent nausea and vomiting, and a J-tube inserted into the small intestine will serve as a channel for supplementary feeding.

source: The Mayo Clinic

Origin of Whipple Surgery

It is called the Whipple procedure, after the American surgeon Dr. Allen Oldfather Whipple who devised the technique in 1935

Whipple Procedure or Pancreaticoduodenectomy is

that the head of the pancreas and the duodenum share the same arterial blood supply. These arteries run through the head of the pancreas, so that both organs must be removed. If only the head of the pancreas were removed it would compromise blood flow to the duodenum.-wiki

Pancreatic Cancer and Whipple Surgery

The Whipple procedure (pancreatoduodenectomy) is the most common operation performed for pancreatic cancer and may be used to treat other cancers such as small bowel cancer.

There are no screening tests for pancreatic cancer and as a result most cases are not discovered until late stages. The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown but studies have found the following risk factors:

  • Age -- The likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most pancreatic cancers occur in people over the age of 60.

  • Smoking -- Cigarette smokers are two or three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop pancreatic cancer.

  • Diabetes -- Pancreatic cancer occurs more often in people who have diabetes than in people who do not.

  • Being male -- More men than women are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

  • Being African American -- African Americans are more likely than Asians, Hispanics, or whites to get pancreatic cancer.

  • Family history -- The risk for developing pancreatic cancer triples if a person's mother, father, sister, or brother had the disease. Also, a family history of colon or ovarian cancer increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Studies have also shown that exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace or a diet high in fat may increase the chance of getting pancreatic cancer.

Source: Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Healing Time of Whipple Surgery

This varies from patient to patient. Patients experience pain and weakness after the Whipple procedure. Eating and finding the right foods will be difficult for the first few weeks. You may also experience nausea and constipation. Because of these difficulties, you will probably be unable to resume work and normal activities within the first month of recovery. After the first month, you will slowly begin to feel normal.

At Mayo Clinic, Patients leave the hospital in an average of 14 days.

A major healing factor appears to be relating to proper nutrition, the pancreas is responsible for making insulin and glucagon that help control blood sugar levels. Both hormones help the body use and store the energy it gets from food. The pancreas also makes pancreatic juices that contain enzymes to help digest food.

After the procedure, the combination of nausea, loss of appetite and decreased physical ability to store energy can be very difficult to overcome.

Proper nutrition and diet is of utmost importance!

Many survivors report that it took 3 months to a year for energy levels to increase, many find that dairy foods, fatty foods and sugary fruits become to difficult to process. It is important to listen to your body, be patient and to focus on giving your body the best opportunity to heal.

With a Doctors advisement it is a good idea to eat many small meals a day, try oral protein and energy supplement drinks, take multi-vitamins and to avoid alcohol.

Whipple procedure video


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I think this is a real great blog post.Much thanks again. ddgcgdcebdfc

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I had a while surgery August of 2011, followed by 20 radiation treatments and carried a chemo bottle for 6 months.

      The surgery was a walk in the park, although the pain from stomach acid with diarrhoea was almost unbearable. Started with 2 enzymes per meal, now at 6 to 7. Eat huge meals, massive amounts of fruit and have gained 17 lbs, although still down 14lbs. Live today as if you are to die tomorrow, thank you cancer researchers.

    • sdstone1972 profile image

      Scott Stone 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts,USA

      I had this done is August 2010 and I had to also endure a 5% liver resection because it had spread to my liver as well. Your hub is very accurate and informative, the hardest part for me was getting my appetite back I was eating single serving meals and forcing my self to finish. Pacing yourself is the best way to approach post surgery, I had to be careful not to over do it I was only 38 when I had this done.

      I would caution people looking at this option because this is gamble, I stayed cancer free until March 2012 when my cancer showed back up. I am now on the chemo pill Sutnet and so far its been able to keep it in check. Remember its all about a positive attitude,never stop fighting and live each day to the fullest.

      Best of luck to anyone fighting pancreatic cancer or cancer of any type.

    • profile image

      piyali sarkar 

      7 years ago

      Thank you so much for this information!! My father in law is going to have this tomorrow and your information have educated me a lot ...

    • profile image

      sophia swann 

      7 years ago

      I had the Wipple on Mar.29th. Then I had a nightmare that lasted 9 days and 9 nights. That is how long I spent in SICU. Two more days in private room then home. The first month was hell, then things started looking up a little. I am currently walking 3 to 5 miles a day, feel really good, just still trying to figure out what I can and cannot eat. However, my tumor is gone, my cancer markers are back to normal, and I am not afraid of dying any longer. So guess it was not so bad after all. I am 25 lbs. lighter, due to the drastic change in my diet, no fat.My surgeon was great, I would recommend that anyone facing this surgery do your homework before selecting your hospital and your Surgical Oncologist. I did, and it paid off.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this very useful information!! Wish I found it before. I didn't have PC but a benign tumor in my pancreas and got the Whipple almost 8 months ago. I'm still struggling with tiredness and some gastrointestinal issues. It's indeed a big deal, not only for the person who goes through it, but his/her loved ones as well. Their support is essential in recovery. I leave you my blog address if you are interested on reading more about what's about going through the whipple.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This surgery is no walk in the park like it sounds. It is the biggest surgery there is, the pain is unbelievable, and recovery time is at least a year to feel "NORMAL". There is a new normal and you will never the same again. Get ready for chronic pancreatitis, as this is usually a side effect, one of several from this "gutting". I had mine in 1999 when there was nothing on the internet yet because it was not as Popular as it seems now. Don't let anyone talk you in to it. I had 30 days to live so I had no choice, but don't do it to "Correct" chronic pancreatitis, that doesn't work. It gives you pancreatitis among many other things; nausea, vomiting, dumping, pain with food, inabiity to control bowel movements, weight loss, muscle degredation from loss of small intestine, etc. I am on 3 pain meds along with 10 other medications to maintain my life. It's a big deal, just prepare yourself and don't walk into it blindly.

    • profile image

      Brianne1981 Wi 

      8 years ago

      Thank you thank you thank you! I have a rare thing called Pancreatic Divisum. I have been dealing with it for 17 years, mind you I am only 29. I had a surgery in 1998 thinking it would help with the problem, since then I have ongoing chronic pancreanitis since. Recently I met with a surgeon he discussed the Whipple Procedure with me. I just want to thank you for the information you provided, definatly made more sense when you put into laymans terms.

    • profile image

      debbie uk 

      8 years ago

      thankyou for the information provided..... found it a great help as, i am about to have the surgery... laymans terms worked for me....glad i read it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh! that was real help, already heard of that, but literally got to know from this hub. great work must say.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      9 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Hopefully I will never need this but interesting to read about it, thanks.

    • MagicStarER profile image


      9 years ago from Western Kentucky

      For a layman, you really did an excellent job of explaining this procedure! Bravo for you! :)


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