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Pancreatic Auto Islet Transplantation is a procedure used to maintain insulin production and secretion in patients with chronic pancreatitis that are undergoing a total pancreatectomy, or removal of the entire pancreas.
When all other medical therapies fail to control the pain, removal of the pancreas may be an option; however it can leave a person diabetic, which means that the body can no longer control blood sugar levels, and will require intensive testing of blood sugar and injections of insulin.
The pancreas is an organ, located in the upper abdominal cavity, behind the stomach, liver and colon. Within the pancreas, specialized clusters of cells known as islets produce insulin, which maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The pancreas also produces enzymes to help digest food.
In order to alleviate pain and maintain insulin production, the pancreas is removed from the body, processed and the islets are harvested. Once the pancreas is removed, it is placed in a solution and put into a machine where the pancreas is digested. The islets are then infused into the patient’s liver. Within a short time, the islets are expected to start producing insulin.
In 80% of patients, the pain from pancreatitis is relieved by a total pancreatectomy. Over time, some patients may be diabetic and will need to take insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. All patients will take pancreatic enzymes to help digest food after surgery.