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Stanford surgeons have the largest experience in North America in laparoscopic spleen-preserving pancreatectomy. In a traditional "distal" pancreatectomy (removing the tail/left side of the gland), the spleen is removed with the pancreas because the major splenic blood vessels run through the tail of the pancreas itself. However, in cases of pancreatic surgery for benign disease (e.g., pancreatic cysts), resection of the spleen is not required as a portion of the operation itself, but is typcially removed because of its anatomic proximity alone. Splenic-preservation is a technically demanding technique in which the blood supply to the spleen is carefully preserved so that it can be left behind, preserving the immunologic function of the spleen and reducing the risk of long-term infectious complications.
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