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Pancreas Transplant Surgery for Diabetes


Topic Overview

Pancreas transplant surgery is a surgical treatment for people with 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). See a picture of a pancreas transplantClick here to see an illustration..

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.1

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 must:1

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

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. American Diabetes Association (2006). Pancreas and islet transplantation in type 1 diabetes. Position statement. Diabetes Care, 29(4): 935.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last RevisedNovember 2, 2010

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