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Pancreatic Islet Cell Autotransplantation

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

You will need to check your blood glucose levels and take insulin as directed. You can develop serious health problems if your blood glucose level gets too high or too low.


Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You cannot be woken.

Call your surgeon or doctor if:

  • You are not able to eat or drink anything.
  • You have a fever.
  • Your surgery site has any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
  • Your surgery site is draining fluid.
  • You have new or worsening pain.
  • You have pain that does not get better with pain medicine.
  • Your blood glucose level is above 240 mg/dL and does not come down with treatment.
  • You have signs of high blood glucose levels, such as blurred or double vision.
  • You have symptoms of a low blood glucose level, such as trouble thinking, sweating, or a pounding heartbeat.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Insulin injections may be needed until your islet cells start to produce insulin again.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

After surgery instructions:

  • Do not lift anything heavy until your surgeon says it is okay. He or she will tell you how much is safe for you to lift. You may not be able to lift anything heavier than 5 pounds until you heal.
  • Do not drive until your surgeon says it is okay. You may need to wait until your surgery area heals. You may also need to wait until you stop taking prescription pain medicines, such as opioids.
  • Follow your surgeon's directions for bathing. He or she will tell you when you can take a shower or bath. You may not be able to take a bath or get the surgery area wet until it heals. You may need to cover the site and take only a shower.
  • Check your surgery site for signs of infection. Signs include redness, swelling, and pus. A fever may also be a sign of infection. Check the area every day. Change the bandage each day, and when it gets wet or dirty.
  • Work with healthcare providers to manage your pain. Prescription pain medicine may be needed after surgery. A pain management specialist may be able to help you control your pain. You may be shown ways to control pain without medicine. Healthcare providers can also help you wean off of prescription medicine.

Work with healthcare providers to control your blood glucose levels:

It may take months for your islets to produce the insulin your body needs. Until then, the following can help you control your blood glucose levels:

  • Check your blood glucose levels as directed. Your healthcare provider will tell you what your levels should be. You will be given information on when to check your levels. You will learn what to do if your level is too high or too low. Write down the times of your checks and your levels. Take them to all follow-up appointments.
    How to check your blood sugar
  • Use insulin as directed. You and your family members will be taught how to draw up and give insulin. You will learn how much insulin you need and what time to inject insulin. You will be taught when to not give insulin. They will also teach you how to dispose of needles and syringes.
  • Work with healthcare providers to create a healthy meal plan. A dietitian will help you make a meal plan to keep your blood glucose level steady. You will learn how food affects your blood glucose levels. You will also learn to keep track of sugar and starchy foods (carbohydrates). Do not skip meals. Your blood glucose level may drop too low if you have taken insulin and do not eat.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise can help you control your blood glucose level. Exercise can also help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. You and your healthcare provider will make a plan for your exercise.
  • Ask about vaccines. You have a higher risk for serious illness if you get the flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis. Ask your healthcare provider if you should get a flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis B vaccine, and when to get the vaccine.

Follow up with your healthcare providers as directed:

You will need to come in to have blood tests. You will continue to meet with your endocrinologist and gastroenterologist. Your providers will tell you when to come in. This often starts 2 weeks after surgery. Islet function can decrease over time. This means you will need tests to check for diabetes. Testing happens at least 1 time each year for the rest of your life. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.