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What is Partial Pancreatectomy?

The pancreas is part of your dog’s endocrine system. It secretes digestive enzymes, insulin that regulates metabolism of carbohydrates, and other hormones. If the pancreas experiences disease or disorder that cannot be resolved with medication, it can be completely removed, which will result in your dog immediately developing type 1 diabetes and experiencing deficiencies in hormone and enzyme production. Alternatively, the diseased tissue can be removed in a partial pancreatomy. In a partial pancreatomy, some of the pancreas is left intact, usually, at least 30%, in order for your dog to be able to produce adequate insulin and enzymes to maintain functioning. Partial pancreatomy may still result in insufficient functioning, requiring an adjusted diet and treatment for type 2 diabetes, but this is more manageable than with a full pancreatectomy. Because the pancreas has some regenerative abilities, pancreatic tissue may grow back and resume production of required substances, eliminating the need for intervention. A veterinary surgeon performs this procedure when required in the treatment of pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer under general anesthetic.

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Partial Pancreatectomy Procedure in Dogs

Medication and special diet may be recommended prior to surgery. Partial pancreatectomy is performed under general anesthetic and will require fasting the night prior to surgery. Once under general anesthesia, your dog's abdomen will be shaved and prepared antiseptically for surgery. An incision will be made in your dog's abdomen and tissues manipulated to reveal the pancreas. During surgery the pancreas will be handled carefully to avoid further disruption and release of enzymes and insulin. Special attention needs to be paid to vascularization to avoid cutting off blood supply to remaining tissues and ensure tissues to be removed have vascularization ligated to avoid hemorrhaging.

Partial pancreatectomy can be performed by suture fracture or blunt dissection and ligation. A suture fracture is performed by passing non absorbing suture material around the area of the pancreas to be removed and tightening it off to close off vascularization and ducts. The tissue on the outside is then removed and the incision closed.

Dissection and ligation is performed with scalpel to remove diseased tissue after vascularization has been addressed with double ligation .

If tumors are present, these will be removed along with adjacent tissue and sent for analysis. 

Glucose levels will be monitored during and after surgery. 

Efficacy of Partial Pancreatectomy in Dogs

Partial pancreatectomy has a more favorable prognosis and is more effective at resolving diseases of the pancreas then complete pancreatectomy, as remaining pancreatic tissue is able to continue to provide endocrine functioning to your dog. Pancreatic insufficiency and diabetes may still occur, requiring medication and diet, however this is more manageable than with complete removal of the pancreas. 

Partial pancreatectomy is the most effective way for treatment of insulinoma, however the tumor usually grows back and hypoglycemia results. A second surgery can be attempted or medication to control hypoglycemic condition provided but success is limited.

Partial Pancreatectomy Recovery in Dogs

After partial pancreatectomy, your dog will require that activity be limited for a few weeks post surgery and that they are not allowed to lick or chew at the abdominal incision. Your pet will need to be closely monitored for signs of complications such as infection or bleeding and these complications will need to be addressed immediately by your veterinarian. In addition, your veterinarian will need to monitor enzymes and glucose concentration in your dog post surgery to determine remaining pancreatic function and prescribe medications to compensate as necessary. A modified diet will be prescribed by your veterinarian to enhance pancreatic functioning. Since the canine pancreas has regenerative capability, functioning may be regained if tissue grows back.

Cost of Partial Pancreatectomy in Dogs

The cost of treatment of pancreatic disorders and associated surgical intervention is high due to the severity of the medical condition precipitating partial pancreatectomy and the complexity of the procedure as well as post-operative monitoring and intervention. Partial pancreatectomy for your dog can cost between $3,000 and $6,000 depending on your location and the degree of medical intervention required.

Dog Partial Pancreatectomy Considerations

Aside from the usual surgical risks of anesthetic, hemorrhaging and infection, partial pancreatectomy carries with it additional risks due to the severe illness pets requiring this procedure are experiencing and the consequences of reduced pancreatic tissue post surgery. Pancreatic insufficiency, hypoglycemia and diabetes are all possibilities post-surgery depending on the ability of remaining pancreatic tissue to function postoperatively. Discussion with your veterinarian to weigh considerations and risks is recommended.

Partial Pancreatectomy Prevention in Dogs

Presenting your dog from becoming obese by providing an appropriate diet and exercise will decrease their risk for pancreatic disease. Ensuring your dog is not exposed to medications, toxins or high fat diets that would result in pancreatic damage will help prevent the need for surgical intervention on the pancreas. When symptoms of illness occurs in your dog prompt medical attention from a veterinarian to address symptoms and illness at an early stage will reduce the need for invasive procedures later on as disease progresses.