Managing Diabetes Via Pancreas Removal
August 30, 2012

Pancreas Removal Helps In Managing Diabetes

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Fatigue. Hunger. Weight loss. These are just a few of the symptoms related to diabetes. With the diagnosis of the disease, it can sometimes be difficult for patients to manage. However, researchers from the Mayo Clinic recently discovered that, after removal of the entire pancreas, patients can better control their diabetes.

Before the procedure, these patients were identified as having cancer or precancerous cysts in the pancreas. The researchers focused on looking at how the patients could control their diabetes following surgeries that would take out the entire pancreas. The study was recently featured in the journal HPB Surgery.

"What has confounded surgery for pancreatic cancers and precancerous cysts for a long time is the notion that if the entire organ is removed, patients will have great difficulty in controlling the resulting diabetes," commented Dr. Michael Wallace, chair of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic, in a prepared statement. "Most surgeons try to leave as much of the pancreas as possible.”

The scientists believe the findings show that removing the entire pancreas has safe and effective results. In producing insulin, the pancreas is able to take out sugar from the blood. However, when the organ is removed, insulin must be replaced with a mechanism such as an external pump or insulin injections.

A total of 14 patients participated and researchers looked at the control of insulin over a number of years. The findings were compared with 100 people with type 1 diabetes who utilized insulin replacement. With the procedure, both groups displayed better ability in managing blood sugar and no complications occurred.

"What we have shown here is that, due to wonderful recent improvements in insulin therapy, patients without a pancreas can control their blood sugar as effectively as type 1 diabetes patients can," continued Wallace in the statement.

Overall, the findings reflect the experiences of patients who are at the Mayo Clinic. Patients who have been diagnosed with intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm, a possibly precancerous cystic condition, can possibly develop cysts in the part of the pancreas that remains after a procedure that removes a portion of the pancreas. By removing the whole pancreas, doctors are able to increase the possibility of eliminating recurrence in the residual pancreas.

"Most surgeons today make difficult decisions about how much of the pancreas to remove in a patient, but that process may become a little more straightforward now that we have demonstrated patients do well when their entire pancreas is removed," Wallace concluded in the statement.

The Mayo Clinic noted that diabetes relates to how the body processes blood glucose, also known as blood sugar. Glucose is important to an individual´s health as it can affect energy for cells that are part of muscles and tissues. A high amount of glucose can also cause serious health issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011 diabetes affected 25.8 million people, which amounted to 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. The organization also stated that diabetes can lead to kidney failure and new cases of blindness. Lastly, it is also associated with heart disease and stroke.