Pancreatic Cancer Surgical Complications

Surgeries are often very complex and can have major side effects on the patient. In treating pancreatic cancer, surgeries include removing parts of pancreas and the stomach, which is a very complex procedure. Hence, a lot of complications arise post surgery.
The complications vary from individual to individual. The patient must be in constant observation during and after the surgery.
The following are some of the complications that arise post surgery:

Picture of a patient receiving treatment for pacreatic cancer

  • Pain:

Any surgical procedure would cause pain to the patient. But if the patient gets sudden abdominal pain, consulting a doctor immediately is a compulsion.

  • Constipation:

There may be no bowel movements for a few days after surgery. Sometimes, it is even difficult to empty the bowels. The patient had to take a lot fluids.

  • Nausea and vomiting:

These complex surgeries can lead to a nauseated feeling in the patient. And, since the patient cannot digest food properly, vomiting is a common side effect of surgery.

  • Delayed emptying of the stomach:

The stomach takes a lot of time to digest normal food so the patient has to stick to liquid diet for a few weeks after surgery. In this case, nourishment is given by the nasogastric tube.

  • Chyle leak:

Post surgery, a milky type of fluid, known as the chyle is produced in the abdominal drain. This can reduced by following a proper diet. A few patients might require artificial feeding, like a feeding tube to provide adequate nourishment.

  • Bleeding:

Bleeding is a very common issue post surgeries. Generally, bleeding stops after a few days. But if it doesn’t, radiological treatment or a second operation might be required to control the bleeding.

  • Chest infections:

The patient is more prone to chest infections, especially if he/she is a smoker. Doctor has to be consulted about breathing and cough after the surgery.

  • Anastomotic leak:

This happens when the joining between either the bowel and the liver or pancreas does not heal properly post surgery, leading to the leakage of the contents. This is a serious issue because the pancreatic enzymes can damage the nearby tissues. These leaks generally take a little time, but heal on their own. In rare cases that they do not heal, a second operation might be required to place drains in the stomach. Position of the drains is very important.

  • Difficulty absorbing food:

The removal of a portion of the pancreas or the entire pancreas itself leads to digestive problems. Stools become pale, greasy and lose. The negative effects can be reduced by taking pancreatic enzyme supplements which help in digestion.

  • Feelings:

Post surgery, the person will experience a lot of mood swings. This can lead to confusion.

  • Diabetes:

The insulin secretion and regulation is affected due to the surgery. The patient might have to take medication or insulin shots to regulate the blood sugar levels.

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