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Virginia Mason Offers ‘Game Changer’ Surgery to Remove Cancer from Pancreas

PancreasSEATTLE – (Sept. 7, 2016) – 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 VirginiaMason.org/PancreaticCancer.

“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.

About Virginia Mason Health System Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 500 physicians; regional medical centers in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS; Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others from around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management methodology for continually improving quality, safety and efficiency. Virginia Mason online: VirginiaMason.org

Virginia Mason Health System also includes Yakima-based Memorial Family of Services and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, a 226-bed facility serving the Yakima Valley in Central Washington since 1950. Memorial Family of Services comprises primary care practices and specialty care services, including high quality cardiac care, a continuum of cancer care, hospice care, and advanced services for children with special health care needs. Memorial online: YakimaMemorial.org

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Media Relations Manager
Virginia Mason Health System
(206) 341-1509
gale.robinette@VirginiaMason.org