The pancreas is a small organ that plays a big part in our bodies. It produces the necessary enzymes that are bodies use in the digestive process. It also produces hormones which are needed in order for our bodies to ensure metabolic functions such as insulin are kept going. The pancreas is located in the middle of your body in the abdomen, behind the colon and stomach but in front of the vertebral colon, to the left of the liver. Because of the important functions of the pancreas, having a pancreatic disease or needing pancreas surgery can be problematic to our bodies.
Most kinds of pancreatic surgery is done because of acute pancreatitis. This is when the pancreas becomes inflamed due to gallstones, usually. Other causes might be hyperlipedemia, trauma, alcohol, medications, post surgical complications and endoscopic procedures. All of these can cause gallstones which causes pancreatitis. Typically, gallstones must be operated on through pancreas surgery in order to remove all of the stones. In few cases the gallstones can be passed if they are small enough but they can be very painful.
Some symptoms of pancreatitus are:
- Sudden and severe stomach pain in the upper abdomen and back.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdomen swelling
- Racing pulse
- Extremely high or low blood pressure
The symptoms will vary depending on how severe the pancreatitis is. Mild cases do not have many symptoms at all while severe cases can affect the lung, heart, kidney and liver. At time necrosis of the pancreatic tissue can occur if pancreas surgery is not done soon enough.
While the timing of when to have pancreas surgery can very by the severity of the case, if necrosis of the tissue has occurred then about two weeks is normal to wait for the surgery, as long as there are not intense symptoms. The dead tissue must be separated from the live tissue and the longer that you wait, the easier that will be. If the necrosis has become infected then a series of aggressive treatment will be needed. Without this treatment, very few patients survive the infection. There may be multiple surgeries needed in order to clear the infection entirely.
After Pancreas Surgery
Typically, patients will still appear to be ill after the surgeries are complete, sometimes even critically so. They may be required to stay in the hospital for anywhere from three to 10 days depending on how they are recovering. Full recovery will take place over an average of two months. Staples, stitches and special dressing will need good care and attention after the procedure. You also may not be able to eat for a few days following your surgery due to temporary paralysis of the stomach. Everyone’s stomach recovers differently so there’s no way to tell exactly how long it will be before you can eat normally again.
During the period of gastric ileus, you will be given a trial and error process to go through in order to determine how soon you can attempt to eat regularly. Some patients have to make permanent changes in their diet if they want to avoid diarrhea, gas and further somtach pain. If the gastric ileus takes longer than normal to go back to normal, a feeding tube or IV may be put in place to ensure proper nutrients are reaching the patient. Even once you can eat normally again, you could only eat small, frequent meals about every three hours or so. Protein is incredibly important to eat at this point because of the muscle mass you will have lost during your illness.
Overall, the whole process can be quite complicated and make you a little nervous. That’s okay. Any questions or doubts or worries that you have can be directed to your doctor and he or she will be able to put your mind at ease. You may be in for a long road ahead of you but as long as you follow the necessary advice, you should recover just fine before long. It’s very important not to try any methods that have not been approved by your doctor; stick to their suggestions and ask them about anything new you may hear of and would like to try, especially if it is after your surgery.