Pancreatic cysts are small, fluid-filled sacs that form in the pancreas. The majority of pancreatic cysts are benign pseudocysts which are a common complication of pancreatitis. Other types of pancreatic cysts are serous cystadenoma (SCA) cysts, which are typically benign. Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) cysts and mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCN) cysts have the potential to develop into pancreatic cancer. Most pancreatic cysts are identified during diagnostic imaging for another condition.
For patients who require cyst removal, general and gastrointestinal surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) offer a range of advanced minimally invasive surgery approaches — such as robotic surgery — for cyst removal. Pancreatic specialists at BWH, including surgeons and gastroenterologists, collaborate to determine the best treatment for patients with complex pancreatic cysts.
Endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA)
Treatment for Pancreatic Cysts
Brigham and Women’s Hospital general and gastrointestinal surgeons offer extensive expertise in the most advanced minimally invasive procedures for pancreatic cysts:
Surgical drainage of the cyst(s)
Endoscopic drainage of the cyst using an endoscope
Percutaneous (through the skin) drainage of the cyst using a needle (guided by a CT scan)
Laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy is surgery to remove the body and tail of the pancreas. The spleen may also be removed.
Pancreaticoduodenectomy is a procedure in which the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, nearby lymph nodes and part of the stomach, small intestine, and bile duct are surgically removed. Also called the Whipple procedure.
Enucleation, performed using an open or laparoscopic surgical approach, removes only the tumor cells, leaving the pancreas intact. It is appropriate for small tumors.
Close monitoring by scans (to determine any change in size)
What You Should Expect
You will receive a thorough diagnostic examination to evaluate if you have pancreatic cysts and determine what course of treatment is needed. Careful monitoring and the involvement of an experienced general and gastrointestinal surgeon are important to the successful outcome for patients with pancreas conditions.
The day of surgery, you will be taken care of in the operating room by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in pancreatic cyst surgery. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by an experienced surgical and nursing staff.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, collaborating with colleagues who have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating pancreatic cysts. In addition, patients have full access to BWH’s world-renowned academic medical community with its diverse specialists and state-of-the-art facilities.
Pancreatic Surgery Appointments and Locations
Contact one of our pancreatic surgeons in the list at the top of the page to make an appointment.