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Pancreas Transplant Surgery for Diabetes - Topic Overview

Pancreas transplant surgery is a surgical treatment for people who have type 1 diabetes. The person's pancreas is not removed. The transplanted pancreas is placed in the front part of the abdomen. Insulin from the transplanted pancreas is released into the bloodstream through the lower abdominal blood vessels (veins).

When the surgery is successful, the person may no longer have symptoms of diabetes or need to treat diabetes. But the person may still develop complications from diabetes. If the person already has complications, they may continue to get worse as time goes on.

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This surgery is used mainly for people who have had or plan to have a kidney transplant. The pancreas transplant can be done at the same time as or after the kidney transplant.

A person who wants to have only a pancreas transplant usually:

  • Has a history of severe metabolic problems from diabetes (such as diabetic ketoacidosis).
  • Has major problems with insulin therapy.
  • Has complications despite insulin therapy.

Pancreas transplants are done only in hospitals that handle kidney transplants and that are equipped to care for people who have kidney transplant surgery.

People who receive a transplanted pancreas must take immunosuppressive medicine to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new organ.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 16, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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