Frequently Asked Questions About Pancreatic And Biliary Diseases
What is the pancreas? It is a "silent," solid organ positioned behind the stomach in the upper part of the abdomen. The body's main digestive organ, the pancreas is composed of different cells that serve distinct functions. Some cells produce digestive "juices" or enzymes, while the others produce hormones. The pancreatic enzymes break down the three types of nutritional elements: protease digests proteins; lipase digests fat; and amylase digests carbohydrates. Once manufactured, the digestive enzymes empty into channels (ducts), eventually draining into the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. Food that passes through the duodenum stimulates the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. The most important hormone the pancreas produces is insulin, which controls the amount of glucose in our bloodstream. When an insufficient amount of insulin is secreted, the body's cells are unable to take in glucose, which raises glucose levels in the bloodstream and may ultimately lead to diabetes (though it is not the principal cause of diabetes). In addition to insulin, the pancreas makes other hormones, all of which pass into the blood that flows through the organ (not through the ducts used by the enzymes). What are the most common problems that affect the pancreas? Normally the pancreas does not cause us much trouble, but when it does, the symptoms can be quite bothersome and, in some cases, fatal. Pancreatitis is the most common pancreatic condition, categorized as either acute and chronic. In acute pancreatitis the organ suddenly becomes swollen and releases digestive juices into the bloodstream. Depending on how severe it is, acute pancreatitis can cause pain, fever, shortness of breath or kidney problems, among other symptoms. In rare cases death may result fr Continue reading >>
Modern Life Without A Pancreas
My hiking shoes were just laced up when there was a frantic vibrating in my pocket. I reached inside, took out the iPod-sized medical device and checked the screen. Up at the top, where my blood glucose would normally read, was a series of glowing question marks. Great. It had been over a week since I’d inserted my last continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) sensor and it had started acting up earlier that morning, with missed readings. Each of these disposable sensors lasts for about a week, transmitting the number representing my blood sugar level in real time to a small handheld receiver. It figured that just as I was about to head out on a Saturday morning hike with my husband and two daughters, it would choose that moment to finally die. It always happens like that. I found my husband in the kitchen, packing some water and snacks. “My CGM just died,” I said. “I’m going to stay here and wait for the new sensor to start up.” “That’s lame. Can’t you just take a bunch of extra test strips?” he asked, referring to the tiny plastic strips my fingerstick blood glucose meter uses. But unlike my CGM, this device only gives me a reading each time I lance a drop of blood from a finger. I could feel my heart rate rising at the prospect of hiking without the constant blood sugar feedback I’d come to depend on since I first started using CGM technology six years ago. In the last 28 years of living with type I diabetes, I’ve lived through a progression of treatment technologies. When I was diagnosed at the age of 11 in 1986, my parents were handed a couple bottles of insulin, a box of syringes, a vial of glucose testing strips, and a prescribed diet of an exact number of bread, protein, fat, and fruit exchanges to be eaten at each meal and snack. For the rest Continue reading >>
Living Without A Pancreas: Is It Possible?
Living without a pancreas: Is it possible? Adjusting to life without a pancreas can seem daunting at first, but most patients adjust remarkably well. Located deep in the abdomen, the pancreas is a vital part of the digestive system and a critical controller of blood sugar levels, releasing the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream to help control how the body uses food for energy. Given the importance of the pancreas as an organ, you might think living without one is impossible like trying to live without a heart. But you can in fact live without a pancreas. Thanks to advancements in Medicine and the technology with which to administer it, we can now more effectively than ever reproduce what the pancreas does when it becomes necessary to remove all or part of the organ because of pancreatic cancer or other pancreatic diseases . Partial pancreatectomy, or only removing part of the pancreas, is much more common than a total pancreatectomy, or removing the entire pancreas. Total pancreatectomy is most commonly performed for patients who have a so called field-defect that places their entire gland at risk for developing cancer. This occurs rarely, but some genetic conditions or pre-cancerous lesions can require such an operation. Thus it is important for at-risk patients to know their options and ask their physician if they qualify for either a partial or total pancreatectomy. So how do you live without a pancreas or only a partial one? The short answer is medications, lifestyle changes, and in rare cases, transplantation of the hormone-producing pancreatic cells. In addition to regulating blood sugar levels, the pancreas secretes powerful enzymes into the intestines to help break down fatty foods so our bodies can use the nutrients. For the most part, we can Continue reading >>
If A Person Can Live Without A Fully Functional Pancreas, Then What, Ultimately, Kills Most Pancreatic Cancer Patients?
Pancreatic cancer tends to spread quickly and aggressively. By the time it's found, it has almost always infiltrated other organs, such as the liver. It grows fast and it spreads fast and by the time it's spotted, it's usually all over. I think other answers didn't really address the core of this question. While pancreatic cancer can be undetectable in early stage and metastasize rapidly to other organs when it progresses, what truly kills the patient is the uncontrollable rate of cancer cell proliferation that replaces the functionality of normal cells. These cancer cells are mutated and hence cannot carry out their physiological functions. What functional impairment will present itself as signs and symptoms will depend on which type of cell is being replaced, in other words which organ is infiltrated with these cancer cells. If pancreatic adenocarcinoma spreads to the liver(most common site of metastasis for pancreatic cancer), the liver will start to fail. As a result, any functions carried out by the liver to maintain homeostasis will deteriorate. The pancreatic tumor can also grow large enough to start compressing the common bile duct, in this case patient will present with painless jaundice(yellow discoloration of sclera), or pruritus(skin itchiness due to accumulation of bilirubin). -In medicine, painless jaundice is one of the classical signs of pancreatic cancer. Next, the inability of liver to synthesize coagulating factors will render the patient to easy/prolong bleeding. Failure of proteins synthesis such as antibodies will predispose the patient to various infections. More importantly, these cancer cells have extremely high cellular metabolism, which is the reason why cancer patients are cachexic in appearance. Over time, they become significantly weaker o Continue reading >>
Pancreas Removal: Can You Live Without A Pancreas?
Pancreas Removal: Can You Live Without a Pancreas? Home Health Pancreas Removal: Can You Live Without a Pancreas? The greatest wealth is health. While some of the diseases are cured by medications, some need surgery. But there are some conditions which require the infected section to be removed permanently from the body itself. Few organs are extremely vital, without which a human being cannot live at all. Heart and brain are some examples. However, the absence of certain other organs can be compensated with medical intervention. Pancreatic surgery is one of such cases in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The pancreas is a vital organ in the body that performs two major functions; namely secreting insulin and digestive enzymes. These functions are extremely vital for a healthy life, however, not vital for survival altogether. In simple words, one can live without some portion of the pancreas or the entire pancreas as a matter of fact. There are two main kinds of pancreas removal surgery partial and total removal. In the partial surgery, some portion of infected pancreas is removed. It is done to stop the infection, such as cancer, from spreading into the healthy tissues surrounding it. It is usually not a threatening situation as the remaining healthy tissues of the organ keep its functions in action. Even when the pancreas stops producing insulin, in case of diabetes type 1, the digestive enzyme secreted by it is still utilized for the bodily function. It does not require any downsizing the organ. The total removal surgery requires the surgeon to remove the entire organ itself. However, this type of pancreas surgery is rarely done. It is done when the pancreas becomes ineffective altogether. Conditions like cystic fibrosis or chronic pancreatitis result in malfunction of pancr Continue reading >>
Is There Anyone Living Without A Pancreas?
is there anyone living without a pancreas? Is there anyone living without there pancreas? My husband had his completely removed alittle over a year ago. We have had nothing but problems. He has constant diarea, constant pain after he eats.He's a diabetic. It's been as low as 8,and as high as 400. Doctors tell us hes the only patient they know, who has no pancreas? That alive any way. Were looking for a support group of some kind , to help us. Is any one out there who could help us learn more about this, or share there story. thanks Hi, I can't help you, but I have read one other story on this website about someone living without a pancreas. She had pancreatitis for 11 years I think and she said that having her pancreas removed was the best thing that happened to her. I don't remember what her name was, but I know an easier way to find her. Type pancreatitis into your topic search. You will get 80 letters. I think her letter is in the first batch of 10. Hope I could help. my son has no pancreas, he had a partial pancretectomy at 11 days old then they removed the rest of it when he was 21 days old. He is now 20 on the 01/01/09, he takes 5 x Creon Forte' with each meal, 1 x Creon Forte' with a snack, and is on 4 shots of insulin per day. When he was a baby he was on pancrease then went onto Creon, then Creon Forte' for his digestion. He has small stature but otherwise very healthy. He does get diarrahea occassionally if he misses his Creon. I have been very sick for 20 years, and last year I had a cyst removed on my pancreas, complications ensued and I fought for my life for six months in the hospital. The doctors threatened to remove my pancreas if the infections did not stop. I did not drink nor smoke. The cyst was non cancerous and was in the head of the pancreas. I al Continue reading >>
All Can You Live Without A Portion Of Your Pancreas? Messages
Can you live without a portion of your pancreas? I have a dear friend who was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer today. He has not even spoken to the oncologist to find out what they will do going forward. Apparently his lymph nodes are clear. I was wondering if they could remove most of the tumor and his pancreas, followed with traditional chemo and/or radiation therapy and look forward to a long life afterward. He is 48. Does anyone know of at least one case of this or am I being too optomistic? RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas? by PingPong_Ball on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:00 AM Yes, I'm alive. My pancreasis now calling a medical waste landfill in New Jersey home as it was removed last October. Before I was totally gutted like a fish, 75% of it was removed in August. With only 25% of a pancreas, my body still produced some insulin & digestive enzymes. A total pancdretomy (I alwaysmisspell this word to the point my spell check won't even give me suggestions) will live your frienda diabetic andhis body will no longer produce digestive enzymes. This means he'll need to be careful ofhis diet,will beinsulin dependant, and will need to take digestive enzyme pills whenhe eats.A personcan return to a somewhat normal life style ifthey eat right, exercise, and take care of themselves. A strong network of support also helps, so your pal is lucky to have you as a friend. The healing process from a total pancdretomy can be painful. For example, it can take a few months for one's body to remember that food should go down into the stomach instead of coming back up. Delayed Gastric emptying is no fun! I made it a game called Will It Stay Down? As a friend, one of the worst things you can doit give your buddy tips on how to eat if he experiences delayed gastric empty Continue reading >>
Can You Live Without A Pancreas?
Please visit the new WebMD Message Boards to find answers and get support. Yes. The pancreas has two main functions: secretion of insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, and secretion of digestive enzymes and hormones. Although not a perfect solution, these functions can be replaced through insulin injections and oral pancreatic enzymes with meals. Surgery to remove the pancreas completely is rarely done, so very few people have no pancreas at all. Much more common is having a pancreas that doesnt work properly. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops making insulin but continues to make digestive enzymes. In cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatitis, both insulin and enzyme production are often impaired. After surgery to remove part of the pancreas (such as for pancreatic cancer), in some cases the remaining pancreas cant make enough insulin, enzymes, or both. People with diabetes are at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes, and low pancreatic enzymes can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Artificial replacement doesnt work as well as a healthy pancreas, but it allows many people with pancreatic insufficiency to live full, active lives. Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, blogs, or WebMD Answers are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Continue reading >>
What Is It Like Living Without A Pancreas?
What Is it Like Living Without a Pancreas? While there are many people who believe its impossible to live without a pancreas, it is in fact possible. Until recent years, it wasn't possible because, without a pancreas, a person would be unable to digest food and, therefore, eat. Severe diabetes was also likely. But in recent times, with the development of medical regimens to replace what the pancreas normally produces, life without a pancreas became possible----even a fairly normal life. Some people living today without a pancreas say it is not difficult; but others say it is. The pancreas---sometimes described as pistol like in shape---sits behind the stomach in the upper abdomen. It produces enzymes (digestive juices) which are essential for digestion of food; they break down three essential nutrients: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Hormones are also manufactured by the pancreas, the most important of which is insulin. Insulin regulates glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream; when theres not enough insulin in the body, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and diabetes is likely to occur. Normally, the pancreas functions without problems; but when they occur theyre severe and often fatal, the CS Cedars-Sinai Research and Education Medical Center reports on its website. Pancreatitis is the most common: digestive juices are released into the bloodstream and not into the duct that leads to the small intestine---areas where the enzymes act on foods. This can cause acute pain, nausea, fever and even kidney failure. If repeated attacks occur, permanent scarring and pancreatic dysfunction occur. Loss of the pancreas can be due to pancreatic cancer, but it is relatively uncommon. To live without a pancreas, patients must take pancreatic-enzyme supplements to be able to eat and Continue reading >>
Can You Live Without A Pancreas?
You can live without a pancreas, although you would need to take medication for the rest of your life to compensate for the important functions that the pancreas performs. Although most peoplehave very little idea of where the pancreas is in the body, let alone what it does, it is still considered one of the bodys major organs. However, as with every other organ in the body, things can happen to the pancreas, which may cause it to stop working or require removal. The question is, can you survive without your pancreas? And if so, how would it change your life? The pancreas is a gland organ located in the abdominal cavity, behind the stomach, and is roughly 6 inches long. While few people give their pancreas much thought, it performs a few critical roles within the body. First and foremost, the pancreas helps in the digestion of food, as it can release enzymes from its exocrine cells that are required to break down particular types of food. These specialized enzymes include amylase and lipase, which help to metabolize carbohydrates and fats, respectively, as well as trypsin and chymotrypsin, which are needed to break down carbohydrates. Without proper digestion from these additional gastric juices, less nutrients would be available to the body. Secondly, the pancreas creates a very important hormone in its endocrine cells insulin. As many of you likely know, insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels in the body. By creating insulin and releasing it into the bloodstream when necessary, the pancreas controls the glucose being used in the body, and can prevent the onset of diabetes. In both types of diabetes, the pancreas is affected, either due to beta cells in the pancreas being destroyed (and thus, being unable to produce insulin), or through the bodys ina Continue reading >>
Can You Live Without A Pancreas?
Medically reviewed by Graham Rogers, MD on April 12, 2017 Written by Stephanie Watson Yes, you can live without a pancreas. You will need to make a few adjustments to your life, though. Your pancreas makes substances that control your blood sugar and help your body digest foods. After surgery, youll have to take medicines to handle these functions. Surgery to remove the whole pancreas is rarely done anymore . However, you might need this surgery if you have pancreatic cancer, severe pancreatitis, or damage to your pancreas from an injury. Thanks to new medicines, life expectancy after pancreas removal surgery is rising. Your outlook will depend on the condition you have. One study found that the seven-year survival rate after surgery for people with noncancerous conditions like pancreatitis was 76 percent. But for people with pancreatic cancer, the seven-year survival rate was 31 percent. The pancreas is a gland located in your abdomen, underneath your stomach. Its shaped like a large tadpole, with a round head and a thinner, tapered body. The head is curved into the duodenum, the first part of your small intestine. The body of the pancreas sits between your stomach and spine. The pancreas has two kinds of cells. Each type of cell produces a different substance. Endocrine cells produce the hormones insulin and glucagon. Insulin helps lower blood sugar, and glucagon raises blood sugar. Exocrine cells produce enzymes that help digest food in the intestine. Trypsin and chymotrypsin break down proteins. Amylase digests carbohydrates, and lipase breaks down fats. Diseases that might require pancreas removal surgery include: Chronic pancreatitis : This is inflammation in the pancreas that gets worse over time. Surgery is sometimes done to relieve pancreatitis pain. Pancreati Continue reading >>
Can You Live Without A Pancreas? What You Need To Know
While it is possible to live without a pancreas, doctors only recommend removing a pancreas when a person has a serious medical condition such as severe recurrent pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. In most cases, medical treatments can take the place of the pancreas, but people living without a pancreas require diligent monitoring and medical care. Removal of the pancreas also means a person will have to make a variety of lifestyle changes that can be tough to adjust to. Contents of this article: Can you live without a pancreas? The pancreas is a gland that secretes hormones that a person needs to survive, including insulin. Decades ago, serious problems with the pancreas were almost always fatal. Now, it is possible for people to live without a pancreas. Surgery to remove the pancreas is called pancreatectomy. The surgery can be partial, removing only the diseased portion of the pancreas, or a surgeon may remove the entire pancreas. A complete pancreatectomy that removes the entire pancreas also requires the removal of parts of the stomach, a portion of the small intestine called the duodenum, and the end of the bile duct. The gallbladder and the spleen may be removed as well. This extensive surgery can be dangerous and life-changing. After a pancreatectomy, a person will develop diabetes. They need to change their diet and lifestyle and will have to take insulin for the rest of their lives. People who cannot produce enough insulin develop diabetes, which is why removing the pancreas automatically triggers the condition. Removing the pancreas can also reduce the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food. Without artificial insulin injections and digestive enzymes, a person without a pancreas cannot survive. One 2016 study found that about three-quarters of people wi Continue reading >>
Surgery For Pancreatic Cancer
Two general types of surgery can be used for pancreatic cancer: Potentially curative surgery is used when the results of exams and tests suggest that it’s possible to remove (resect) all the cancer. Palliative surgery may be done if imaging tests show that the cancer is too widespread to be removed completely. This surgery is done to relieve symptoms or to prevent certain complications like a blocked bile duct or intestine, but the goal is not to try to cure the cancer. Staging laparoscopy To determine which type of surgery might be best, it’s important to know the stage (extent) of the cancer. But it can be hard to stage pancreatic cancer accurately just using imaging tests. Sometimes laparoscopy is done first to help determine the extent of the cancer and if it can be resected. For this procedure, the surgeon makes a few small incisions (cuts) in the abdomen (belly) and inserts long, thin instruments. One of these has a small video camera on the end so the surgeon can see inside the abdomen. The surgeon can look at the pancreas and other organs for tumors and take biopsy samples of abnormal areas to learn how far the cancer has spread. Potentially curative surgery Studies have shown that removing only part of a pancreatic cancer doesn’t help patients live longer, so potentially curative surgery is only done if the surgeon thinks all of the cancer can be removed. This is very complex surgery, and it can also be very hard for patients. It can cause complications and can take weeks to months to recover from. If you're thinking about having this type of surgery, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits and risks carefully. Fewer than 1 in 5 pancreatic cancers appear to be confined to the pancreas at the time they are found. Even then, not all of these cancer Continue reading >>
Woman With Chronic Pancreatitis Has Pancreas Removed, Gets Insulin From Liver - Abc News
Food started to bother Allison Sarver when she was 18 years old, giving her attacks of nausea and pain after meals. By the time she was 24, she would sneak out of her office after lunch to lie down in her car until the attacks passed. By the end of that year, she was no longer able to eat or drink anything and had to rely on intravenous feeding to survive. After years of alternately ignoring the symptoms and getting misdiagnosed with ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, a doctor in Philadelphia finally told Sarver she had chronic pancreatitis , meaning her pancreas -- the organ that produces insulin and other enzymes necessary for digestion -- had become scarred and enflamed. Unable to eat without pain, Sarver lost 30 pounds in two months and was found to be deficient in vitamins A, B, D and E. While grateful for a diagnosis, getting treatment for her pancreatitis remained another matter. "I was told, 'If we can't help you, no one else can help you,'" she said, referring to her team of doctors. "I thought, 'There has to be a place that does [treats] this.'" An Internet search led Sarver to the pancreas clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which specialized in pancreatitis. They had been performing a surgery on some of their patients that involved removing the entire pancreas, extracting its insulin-producing cells -- called islets -- and moving them to the patient's liver. The liver would then take over the job of producing insulin to regulate blood glucose levels, and the patient would take enzyme pills to fulfill the pancreas's remaining jobs, which include aiding in the digestion of fats, carbohydrates and protein. In April 2012, when Sarver first started seeing the Hopkins doctors, she couldn't imagine having her entire pancreas removed. It was just Continue reading >>
Is It Possible To Live Without A Pancreas?
By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Colon And Digestive | Thursday, February 02, 2017 - 06:00 AM The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen that secrets insulin, digestive enzymes, and hormones. It plays an important role in the management of blood sugar and in the digestive system, but can you live without it? Continue reading to learn why the pancreas may be removed, how people can live without one, and the potential side effects of pancreas removal. The pancreas is a key component of the digestive system and works to regulate blood sugar, preventing the development of diabetes. Why then do people have it removed? Below are some of the most common reasons for the removal of the pancreas. Hereditary pancreatitis: Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas, and hereditary pancreatitis is caused by genetic mutations that increase a patients risk of developing this inflammation on a recurrent basis. People with hereditary pancreatitis are 40 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, so the pancreas is sometimes removed as a preventative measure. Chronic pancreatitis: Chronic pancreatitis causes severe pain and is long-lasting, so patients may opt for either a full or partial removal of the pancreas in order to relieve the pain associated with this condition. IPMN: IPMN, or intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm, is a pre-cancerous condition that causes sores and lesions to develop in the main pancreas duct. The pancreas may be removed in those with this condition to prevent it from developing into pancreatic cancer. Cancer: Those with pancreatic cancer will undergo either a full or partial pancreas removal approximately 2040 percent of the time. A full pancreas removal occurs most often if the patient has multiple tumors, or an underlying disease that affects Continue reading >>