The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

Importance of an Experienced Surgeon

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins have performed over 5,000 Whipple resections, more than any other institution in the world. A number of studies have shown that surgical volume (the number of pancreatic resections a center performs each year) is a strong predictor of patient outcome.

For example, in the April 11, 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Birkmeyer and colleagues from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Vermont, reported that the mortality rate for Whipple procedures at low-volume centers was 16.3%, while the mortality rate for the same surgery at high-volume centers was only 3.8%1.

From their analyses the authors conclude that patients "can significantly reduce their risk of operative death by selecting a high-volume hospital."

High-volume centers were defined in this study as centers that perform more than 16 whipples per year. Last year close to 300 whipples were performed at Johns Hopkins, and the mortality rate was less than 1%.

1 N Engl J Med 2002 Apr 11;346(15):1128-37