Q:

How can a patient benefit from looking at images of Whipple surgery?

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Quick Answer

Preoperative teaching, such as viewing images of a procedure, helps many patients deal with anxiety and cope more effectively with postoperative pain, according to an analysis published in Patient Education & Counseling. However, this was not true for patients who underwent heart by-pass surgery, as the European Heart Journal reports.

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Although many studies published during the 1950s through the 1990s showed that patients feel calmer, have shorter hospital stays and experience less pain if they learn details about their surgeries before they take place, those studies did not meet modern standards for clinical trials, as the journal Trials explains. In late 2013, a German study, the PEDUCAT clinical trial, began evaluating the effects of specific preoperative teaching methods using a more sophisticated design, but those results are not available as of March 2015.

A Whipple procedure is surgery that doctors use to treat pancreatic cancer, as WebMD explains. It is a very complex operation that involves removing part of the pancreas, small intestine, gall bladder, common bile duct and sometimes part of the stomach. Only about 40 percent of patients who do not have an advanced disease at the time of their diagnosis are eligible for the operation, which when successful, increases five-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer to about 25 percent.

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