Pancreatitis Treatments

Pancreas transplants

Pancreatectomy/auto-islet transplantation is performed at The Transplant Center at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. Our physicians can help you decide if this treatment is right for you.

The Schulze Diabetes Institute is home to the world's largest pancreatectomy and auto-islet transplant program.

During a pancreatectomy, a surgeon removes the patient's pancreas, relieving his or her pain. Without a pancreas, the patient will develop diabetes. In the past, this surgery meant patients had to trade elimination of pain for a lifetime regimen of insulin injections.

Today, there is another option

Our physician-researchers have developed a way to eliminate or minimize the need for lifelong insulin after a pancreatectomy through auto-islet transplantation. During this process, islet cells from the patient’s own pancreas are isolated and inserted into the patient's liver where they can continue to produce insulin. No anti-rejection drugs are necessary because the cells are from the patient’s own body.

Both procedures are performed at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview by surgeons and specialists who are part University of Minnesota Physicians. At present, we are only one of two hospitals in the nation that routinely performs pancreatectomy and auto islet transplants for patients with chronic pancreatitis – and we have a long history of success.


Of our patients who received the auto-islet transplant after pancreatectomy:

  • 40% could manage their diabetes without regular injections of insulin
  • 90% have some function of the islets long term

Whether or not a patient needs to take insulin after an auto-islet transplant depends on a variety of factors, including the number and quality of islets isolated from the pancreas. All patients receive insulin therapy at least temporarily after surgery.  The probability that a person will not need insulin shots is highest in those who have had no previous surgery on the pancreas (such as a Whipple or Puestow).

Of course, there is no guarantee that patients who receive an auto-islet transplant will not become diabetic, however the Schulz Diabetes Institute is working tirelessly to increase the odds of this life-changing procedure even more.