A doctor recommends removing parts of the pancreas if the patient is suffering from pancreatic cancer, benign pancreatic tumors or other diseases, according to the Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases. When a patient has adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, a surgeon removes the head or the tail of the pancreas depending on where the tumors are found.
If the tumours are found in the head of the pancreas, the surgeon performs a Whipple operation. In this operation, the surgeon removes not only the head of pancreas, but also some of the patient's bile duct, his gallbladder and his duodenum. This is a structure that makes up the very end of the stomach and the very beginning of the small intestine, explains the Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases. When these organs are removed, the surgeon attaches what remains to the small intestine.
Surgeons also perform the Whipple operation if the patient has cancers of the duodenum, the bottom of the bile ducts or the ampula, which is where the bile and pancreatic ducts connect to the duodenum, notes the Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases. Surgeons also perform this operation for noncancerous conditions such as benign lesions in the head of the pancreas and chronic pancreatitis.