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Does pancreas surgery cure pancreatitis?

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Quick Answer

Pancreas surgery to correct chronic pancreatitis is not always successful, states the NYU School of Medicine. The Whipple procedure, the surgery used to treat pancreatic cancer as well as chronic pancreatitis, has a success rate of 70 to 80 percent when used to treat chronic pancreatitis, claims MUSC Digestive Disease Center.

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The Whipple procedure is a complex surgical procedure incorporating several techniques into a single operation. During the procedure, surgeons remove the gallbladder, the head of the pancreas, part of the bile duct, small intestine and, depending on the case, part of the stomach, according to MUSC Digestive Disease Center. The surgeon then reconstructs the area.

Although complicated, the Whipple procedure is safe, with a mortality rate of only 2 percent when performed by experienced surgeons, states Johns Hopkins Medicine. However, patients must stay in the hospital for one to two weeks to recover due to the complexity of the procedure, states MUSC Digestive Disease Center.

However, not all cases of pancreatitis are treated with surgery. Doctors also treat acute pancreatitis cases with IVs and pain medications, reports WebMD. Patients with chronic pancreatitis can avoid surgery in some cases. Doctors can prescribe insulin or pancreatic enzymes and put the patient on a low-fat diet.

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