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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With Complications - Surgery

Some complications from type 1 diabetes may need surgical treatment. For example, surgery to remove the vitreous gel (vitrectomy) may improve eye disease (diabetic retinopathy).

For more information, see the topics:

  • Diabetic Retinopathy.
  • Diabetic Nephropathy.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy.

For more information on heart and blood vessel disease, see the topics:

  • Coronary Artery Disease.
  • Heart Attack and Unstable Angina.
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease of the Legs.

If you have kidney damage from diabetes and are considering a kidney transplant , you may be eligible for surgery to replace your pancreas (pancreas transplant ) at the same time. In either case, you need to meet specific criteria to be considered for the surgery.

The only other surgery for type 1 diabetes is the insertion of working pancreas cells (islet cell transplant) into your body. Islet cell transplant surgery is experimental at this time, and you also need to meet specific criteria.

Surgery Choices

Pancreas Transplant Surgery for Diabetes
Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation for Diabetes

What To Think About

Pancreas and islet cell transplants are very expensive. After having one of these surgeries, you must take immunosuppressive medicines to keep your body from rejecting the new tissue.

The success rate for pancreas transplants is improving because of new surgical techniques and new medicines. But islet cell transplants may replace pancreas transplants in the future.11 People with complications from diabetes aren't always eligible for islet cell transplants.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 07, 2011
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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