Recently, our Jefferson surgical teams performed their 1,000th Whipple procedure – the count here since 2005 for this complex, life-saving operation for patients with pancreatic and related cancers.
Jefferson’s program for this type of surgery is one of the highest-volume programs in the nation. Our surgical teams have performed more Whipple procedures and pancreatic resections than any other hospital in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware region.
The effort is a truly multi-specialty endeavor that involves surgeons, anesthesiologists, intensivists, radiologists, GI staff, nurses, residents, and other health professionals.
“I am proud to say that we are rated well below the benchmark from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program when it comes to mortality and complications from Whipple surgery,” said Charles J. Yeo, MD, FACS, the Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chair of Surgery, and a co-director of the Jefferson Pancreas, Biliary and Related Cancer Center. “This is due to our great staff, excellent OR nurses, a top-notch ICU team, and our leadership and participation in several landmark randomized controlled studies that have helped to improve surgical outcomes and led to changes in surgical practice.”
According to Dr. Yeo, one of the reasons the program has been so successful is that Jefferson has several laboratories in the Department of Surgery that use tissue from resections to study the basic molecular biology and genetics of pancreatic cancer. The studies at these laboratories, under the supervision of Jonathan Brody, PhD, Jordan Winter, MD, and Susan Lanza-Jacoby, PhD, are giving his team some great opportunities and very impressive data on novel therapies.
Another initiative that adds to Jefferson’s momentum is the Jefferson Pancreas Tumor Registry, directed by Harish Lavu, MD, and Theresa Yeo, PhD.
“By having patients and their families record data about their medical histories and lifestyles, we can advance our understanding of the differences between sporadic and familial pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Yeo explained.
And by providing our surgical residents a high level of experience, Jefferson’s team is also training a cadre of specialists to treat this often deadly form of cancer.
“I learned pancreatic surgery years ago among a group of hard-driving, forward-thinking pancreatic surgeons,” Dr. Yeo recalled. “Now, those adjectives can just as easily describe our own team, which is passing the torch on to residents and fellows. Our chief residents participate in more than 25 pancreatic resections during their residency, compared to an average of one in most hospitals. Just think of what that does for their education.”
“This is a remarkable professional milestone and attestation to the accomplishment of ‘Best Practice’ by all teams involved in the perioperative care of these complex patients,” said Zvi Grunwald, MD, the James D. Wentzler Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Jefferson. “The good communication, team camaraderie, strong support from institutional leadership, and relentless pursuit of excellence in patient care are the foundations for this achievement. I look forward to continued collaboration among our teams.”