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Liver and Pancreas: Conditions & Treatments

At the UCI Health Digestive Health Institute (DHI), our physicians are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the hepatobiliary system, including the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts.


We treat the full spectrum of conditions affecting the hepatobiliary system, including:
  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • Bile duct injuries, stones and tumors
  • Cancers of the bile ducts, duodenum and gallbladder
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Hepatitis, autoimmune chronic active (ACAH)
  • Hepatitis, viral (A, B, C, D and E)
  • Hilar tumors
  • Liver cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
  • Pancreas cancer
  • Pancreatitis (acute and chronic)
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC)
  • Wilson's disease

View a video of the anatomy of the gastrointestinal system ›


Disorders of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts can range from mildly troublesome to intensely painful. While some problems may be treated successfully with medications, in many cases, surgery is the most effective treatment.

Our surgical treatments include:

  • Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy)

This surgery involves removal of the gallbladder, head of the pancreas, part of the duodenum (a section of the small intestine), part of the stomach and the common bile duct. After those organs are removed, the pancreatic duct, bile duct and stomach are connected to the jejunum (another part of the small intestine) in order for pancreatic juices, bile and food to drain into the small bowel.

This procedure is performed for a variety of reasons, most commonly for cancer of the pancreas, common bile duct or duodenum.

Learn more about the Whipple procedure ›

  • Distal pancreas resection

This procedure is used to remove tumors involving the tail of the pancreas. Since the spleen is in close proximity to the tail of the pancreas, the spleen may be removed as well. UCI Health has one of the few centers in the nation that offers a laparoscopic alternative for this procedure. Our revolutionary approach results in less pain and shorter hospital stays.

  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

This technique involves the use of a heating probe to destroy cancer cells. Guided by ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) images, the surgeon inserts several thin needles through small incisions in the abdomen. When the needles reach the tumor, they're heated with an electric current, destroying the malignant cells. RFA is an option for patients with nonresectable tumors that are smaller than six centimeters in diameter.

The procedure can be performed laparoscopically through small incisions, percutaneously through the skin, or through a standard open incision. RFA has relatively few side effects, and patients can usually go home within 24 hours after treatment.

  • Treatment of bleeding varices

In some instances, upper gastrointestinal bleeding cannot be managed with medical therapy or endoscopic treatment alone. Surgical shunts or transjugular portal systemic shunts (TIPPS) may be placed by interventional radiologists.

  • Liver resection

This surgical procedure may involve removal of up to 50 percent of the liver, which is possible because of the liver's unique ability to regenerate. These resections often can be performed laparoscopically.

  • NanoKnife® ablation

This technique delivers electrical energy directly to tumors to kill cancer cells. UCI Health is one of the few institutions in California to offer this treatment method.

We also treat patients with cancers of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, working in concert with specialists at the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the country—and the only one in Orange County.

Learn more about our liver and pancreas cancer services ›

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call 888-717-4463.

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