Robotic Whipple Surgery
The robotic Whipple procedure is a minimally invasive version of the Whipple procedure or pancreaticoduodenectomy, a complex surgery used to treat pancreatic cancer. Either operation involves removing parts of the pancreas, small intestine and gallbladder, and sometimes also bile ducts, stomach and lymph nodes, and then reconnecting the organs so that food can be properly digested.
The only medical center in the Bay Area that can perform the robotic Whipple is UCSF.
Robotic Whipple vs. traditional Whipple
In the traditional Whipple, the surgeon makes a large abdominal incision to remove and reconstruct affected organs and tissues. For the robotic Whipple, the surgeon operates through several small incisions, using robotic arms equipped with special instruments and a tiny camera. The robotic arms can move more precisely and with a better range of motion than a surgeon's hands, while the camera provides a more complete view of the abdominal interior. Because the procedure is less invasive, patients experience fewer complications and recover more quickly.
Why choose UCSF for Whipple surgery
The Whipple is considered one of the most complicated and difficult gastrointestinal surgeries, requiring a high level of training and experience. Thanks to our expert gastrointestinal surgical oncology team and state-of-the-art robotic surgery program, UCSF is the only medical center in the Bay Area that provides both versions (traditional and robotic) of the procedure. We also offer robotic approaches to numerous other surgeries, including treatments for various cancers, uterine fibroids and endometriosis; repairs of female pelvic organ prolapse, heart valve problems and hernias; and bariatric surgery.
Who can get Whipple surgery?
The robotic Whipple is for select patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Advantages of robotic Whipple
The robotic procedure is minimally invasive, and the surgeon uses a da Vinci surgical system. These differences confer a number of advantages over the traditional surgery, including:
- Smaller incisions (and therefore, smaller scars)
- Less blood loss
- Less postoperative pain
- Shorter hospital stays (typically three to four days)
- Faster recovery
- Better long-term outcomes