Virginia Mason offers totally laparoscopic advanced surgery for removing tumors from pancreas

Virginia Mason now offers the totally laparoscopic Whipple procedure as an advanced surgical option for removing tumors from the head of the pancreas.

Adnan Alseidi, MD performed the first totally laparoscopic Whipple at the Virginia Mason Liver, Pancreas and Biliary Surgical Center of Excellence in late July. His patient was released from the hospital only four days after surgery – about half the average length of stay for a patient who undergoes the traditional, open-resection Whipple. By mid-August, she was feeling well enough to travel.

Using the minimally invasive technique, Dr. Alseidi gains access to the pancreas through small entry points rather than one long, deep incision in the patient’s abdomen. This results in less pain and scarring, and quicker recovery.

“The availability of the totally laparoscopic Whipple procedure at Virginia Mason is a game-changer,” he said.

The procedure is an option for patients requiring removal of benign or malignant tumors from the head of the pancreas. A review of radiological images is conducted to determine whether the patient is a candidate for this approach; otherwise an open or a hybrid procedure can be offered.

The procedure offers particular promise to individuals for whom traditional surgery poses increased risk due to the individual’s age or medical condition. The totally laparoscopic Whipple usually lasts 5-8 hours and, at Virginia Mason, the patient may remain in the hospital from seven to 14 days.

“Laparoscopic procedures are less stressful physically and physiologically, and recovery can happen much more quickly,” Dr. Alseidi said. “This approach is an incredible option for our patients.”

Virginia Mason’s multidisciplinary method for treating pancreatic cancer involves gastroenterologists, nutritionists, nurses, oncologists and surgeons. The medical center has some of the highest five-year survival rates in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database. Learn more at

“Multi-disciplinary care is essential in the treatment of pancreas cancer,” said Dr. Alseidi, who also performs laparoscopic removal of tumors from the middle and tail of the pancreas.

The standard Whipple procedure is the most common surgery for removing tumors from the pancreas. This approach requires the surgeon to make a deep incision in the patient’s abdomen to remove the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, part of the small intestine, a portion of the stomach and lymph nodes. The surgeon then reconnects the remaining pancreas and digestive organs. This year, 48,690 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Learn more at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Virginia Mason Medical Center