Pancreatic & Biliary Health Services Program|Loyola Medicine

Pancreatic and Biliary Health Services Program

Why Choose Loyola for Pancreatic and Biliary Health Services?

The clinically integrated Pancreatic and Biliary Health Services program at Loyola offers patients comprehensive care and leading-edge medical services. We focus on preventive care while also offering progressive, state-of-the-art treatments for both routine and complex conditions. Our team includes pancreatobiliary surgeons, interventional endoscopists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, dietitians and other clinicians who specialize in pancreatic and biliary conditions. Together, we work to assess patients’ conditions and develop individualized treatment plans.

  • Our specialists have received additional specialized training in pancreatic and biliary diseases. 
  • Our program cares for a large number of patients with pancreatic and biliary conditions, making Loyola a high-volume center for pancreatic and biliary diseases with high-volume physicians.
  • Our team has access to advanced technology that is often not available at other medical centers.

What Conditions Are Treated by the Pancreatic and Biliary Health Services Program?

Loyola specialists are experts in diagnosing and managing patients with the following conditions:

  • Acute and chronic pancreatitis
  • Autoimmune pancreatitis
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Bile duct cysts (choledochal cysts)
  • Bile duct leaks and injuries
  • Bile duct stones (choledocholithiasis)
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct and gallbladder cancer)
  • Cholecystitis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gallstone disease (cholelithiasis)
  • Liver duct stone disease (hepaticolithiasis)
  • Neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas 
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic cysts 
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Pancreatic necrosis 
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC)
  • Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction 
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome​

Diagnostic and Treatment Services for Conditions of the Pancreas and Biliary System

At Loyola’s Pancreatic and Biliary Health Services program, our integrated team of expert physicians offer state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and treatment for many pancreatic and biliary conditions. We have a wide array of diagnostic options for patients experiencing pancreatic and biliary issues. Treatments for conditions of the pancreas and biliary system vary depending on the type of condition, health of the patient and how far the disease has advanced.

These options are used according to each patient’s specific case and may include:

Testing

  • Pancreatic function testing – Specialized blood, stool and intestinal testing can be performed at Loyola to help assess how well the pancreas is functioning.
     
  • High-resolution radiologic testing – Radiologists at Loyola utilize CT and MRI machines to obtain very high-resolution images of the pancreas and bile duct in a non-invasive way. 
     
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) — EUS can be used to diagnose and stage cancers, as well as to determine if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. This technique can also be used to evaluate and diagnose non-cancerous GI conditions involving the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, bile duct and colon.
     
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) — Through the use of an endoscope and X-ray imaging, your doctor may use ERCP to visualize tumors, blockages and gallstones.

​Treatment

  • Endoscopic ablation therapy — Ablation therapy removes or destroys diseased cells of the gastrointestinal tract. This is commonly used to remove precancerous cells in patients or to help reduce complications from cancers of the bile duct or pancreas. Your doctor may remove the diseased cells with radiofrequency ablation or laser ablation during EUS or ERCP.
     
  • Endoscopic celiac plexus block and neurolysis — For patients experiencing chronic abdominal pain due to cancer or chronic pancreatitis, this procedure may provide relief by injecting pain medication into the nerves or destroying the nerves around the abdominal aorta. This is often used in patients who have not benefitted from other therapies. 
     
  • Pancreatic and bile duct surgery – Patients with conditions of the pancreas and/or bile duct may require surgery. A variety of surgical procedures can be performed for patients depending on the type and severity of the condition. These can include Whipple surgery, distal pancreatectomy, central pancreatectomy, total pancreatectomy, cholecystectomy, choledochoduodenostomy, choledochojejunostomy and hepaticojejunostomy. In some cases, these surgeries can be performed using minimally invasive techniques (laparoscopic and/or robotic) to reduce recovery time, pain, blood loss and stress on the immune system. 
     
  • Consultation with a GI health psychologist - Patients with pancreatic and bile duct disorders are eligible to meet with one of our behavioral medicine providers for a consultation to learn more about our services, determine if he/she is a candidate for treatment, and for education on the brain-gut connection and influence of stress on digestive health. The psychologist will collaborate with your care team to develop a treatment plan to address your specific needs. 
     
  • Comprehensive nutrition evaluation and assessment - People with nutrition-related problems from their pancreatic or bile duct conditions can receive consultations with our experienced registered dietitians and physicians to assess their current diets, degree of malnutrition, and to provide patient-centered feeding plans to support health and healing.

Specialized Services Performed at Loyola

Loyola’s team of physicians at the Pancreatic and Biliary Health Services program have received specialized training to provide the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options for the most complex cases. We are committed to finding the treatment option that is right for you, resulting in the best possible outcome. 

  • Advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques - We offer minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgical techniques and robotic surgery whenever possible to result in faster recovery, less pain, less blood loss, less stress on the immune system and fewer pain medications. Surgery (both minimally invasive and traditional open procedures) is used to correct structural anomalies or remove cancer or parts of a diseased organ.
     
  • High volume center for pancreatic and bile duct surgery - Loyola is widely recognized for the expertise of its skilled surgeons in performing the Whipple procedure, also known as a pancreatoduodenectomy. The Whipple procedure is one of the most extensive and challenging operations, which involves removal of the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine), the common bile duct, sometimes part of the stomach and digestive tract reconstruction. Loyola’s expert surgical team performs one of the highest volumes of pancreatic and bile duct surgeries of any medical center in the region.
     
  • Advanced radiation therapy – Loyola offers the latest advancements in radiation therapy, such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT).
     
  • Fiducial placement for targeted radiation — By using EUS, tiny markers can be placed around tumors in the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas and colon to make them easier to see during radiation therapy. 
     
  • EUS-guided biliary and pancreatic bypass — In cases when the bile duct or pancreas duct is blocked and ERCP is not able to be performed, EUS can be used to create a bypass of the bile duct or pancreas duct to alleviate the blockage without tubes through the skin (percutaneous drain) or surgical bypass.
     
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) with digital cholangioscopy/pancreatoscopy — Through the use of an endoscope and X-ray imaging, your doctor may use ERCP to visualize tumors, blockages and stones of the bile duct or pancreas duct. Our team can insert extremely thin, flexible cameras directly into the bile duct or pancreas duct to examine these areas in close detail and perform targeted tissue sampling and treatment. 
     
  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) — ESWL allows large stones in the bile duct or pancreas duct to be broken into smaller pieces to make them easier to remove by ERCP and without surgery.
     
  • Trans-lumenal endoscopic pancreatic necrosectomy — Patients with severe pancreatitis may develop pancreatic necrosis. This minimally invasive procedure removes dead pancreatic tissue and debris from the abdomen through the mouth using no incisions, avoiding invasive and complex surgical removal.
     
  • Sphincter of Oddi manometry — The sphincter of Oddi controls the flow of fluid from the pancreatic duct and common bile duct into the duodenum. For select patients with unexplained abnormal liver tests or recurrent unexplained pancreatitis, manometry may be used to measure the strength of the sphincter of Oddi. This procedure can be performed during ERCP.

Ongoing Research to Advance Pancreatic and Biliary Health

Loyola’s Pancreatic and Biliary Health Services program is actively pursuing new research with a focus on patient-centered outcomes. As an academic medical center, Loyola is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new diagnostics and treatments. Loyola’s patients benefit from research discoveries made here; read about Loyola’s current clinical trials.