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Pancreaticoduodenectomy is surgery to remove the head of your pancreas, your duodenum, the end of your bile duct, and your gallbladder. Part of your stomach may also be removed. The surgery is also called a Whipple procedure. This surgery is done when a cancerous tumor has been found in the head of your pancreas. The tumor may also be at the place where your bile duct and pancreatic duct meet, or the first part of your duodenum.

Abdominal Organs


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You are short of breath, have chest pain, or cough up blood.
  • You feel lightheaded, faint, or have a seizure.

Call your doctor or surgeon if:

  • You have severe abdominal pain that does not go away even after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • Your symptoms come back or become worse.
  • You have constipation that is not relieved in 2 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • 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.
  • Antibiotics help prevent or fight a bacterial infection.
  • Medicine may be needed to control your blood sugar level.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.

Care for the surgery area:

Carefully wash the area with soap and water. Pat the area dry. Leave your incision uncovered unless there is drainage. Do not take tub baths until your surgeon says it is okay.

Rest as needed:

Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.


Do not lift or pick up more than 5 pounds for 8 weeks or as directed. Your surgeon will tell you when you can do exercises such as jogging and tennis.

Follow up with your doctor or surgeon as directed:

You may need to return to have your stitches removed. You may also be referred to an oncologist. 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.

Learn more about Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Discharge Care)

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Further information

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