Pancreatic Surgery

Our pancreatic surgery team is Michigan’s most experienced. Our physicians are pioneers in pancreatic surgery, have performed several hundred-pancreas operations, and perform in the top percentile of all pancreatic surgery programs in the country. Additionally, Henry Ford surgical oncologists were the first in Michigan to use NanoKnife®, a new technology to destroy pancreatic tumors.

Pancreatic surgery awards and outcomes

Our pancreatic surgery program exceeded the Leapfrog Group's recommended quality and safety criteria, and received their "best in outcomes" rating for pancreatic resections. The team also received Health Grades highest rating of 5-stars for complex gastrointestinal operations and procedures.

The in-hospital 30-day mortality for these procedures is three percent for the most complex operations, such as the Whipple pancreatectomy and nearly 0 percent for the less complex surgeries, including:

  • Distal pancreatectomy
  • Central pancreatectomy
  • Pancreaticojejunostomy for chronic pancreatitis

Several of our surgeons perform laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies.

Pancreatic conditions we treat

  • Cancers of the pancreas
  • Pancreatic Tumors
  • Cysts of the pancreas
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic division

Pancreatic surgery: what to expect

When a patient receives a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, the survival rates vary based on the type of cancer in the pancreas. Many types of pancreatic cancer are highly treatable. At Henry Ford, our surgeons work to determine what type of cancer the patient has and then a treatment plan is customized.

Not all cancers of the pancreas are adenocarcinoma; the patient could have other types of masses, including:

  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Periampullary tumors
  • Cystic lesions


At Henry Ford, most patients will first undergo a laparoscopic procedure to determine the type of cancer. This step is important because once the type of cancer is determined, then a proper course of treatment can be mapped out.

Doctors used to remove a patient’s tumor through a standard operation with a long incision. The patient was weaker after the surgery and needed time to recover from surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments were delayed by at least six weeks.

Henry Ford surgeons attack the cancer differently with better outcomes.

Here’s how our physicians attack pancreatic cancer:

  • A patient undergoes a laparoscopic surgery. Doctors use small keyhole size incisions to determine the type of cancer the patient has. Typically, the patient recovers in one to two days.
  • If the patient has a type of cancer that would benefit from chemotherapy and radiation, then treatment is begun almost immediately.
  • After that course of treatment, the patient then can go in for the full surgery to remove the tumor.

This approach improves the chances of the patient getting all three treatments, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, when compared to the traditional approach.

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