What are the complications of surgery for an insulinoma?

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Complications may occur in up to 40-50% of patients, but many are minor, often minimally affecting length of hospitalization, and few require reoperation. The drainage of the main pancreatic duct is "downhill" toward the head and into the duodenum. Removing portions of the left side of the pancreas (nearer the spleen, called distal pancreatectomy) necessitates successful closure and sealing of the main pancreatic duct and the small tributaries (like small branches and twigs off the trunk of a tree). But even if a small leak occurs from the distal pancreatic duct, it generally seals within a few days to weeks of the operation without need for reoperation. A drain may be necessary temporarily.

The spectrum of pancreatic complications include bleeding, abscess—collection of pus, pancreatitis—inflammation of the pancreas, pseudocyst or fistula—collection of pancreatic juice in the abdomen, or drainage of that fluid out through an opening in the abdominal wall—often collected in a drain. These are the most frequent problems encountered, and all can usually be managed without need for reoperation. Infections in the incision or urine, blood clots in the legs, and lung problems are the most frequent non-pancreatic problems. In many institutional reports, no patients have died from these operations.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.