Credit: Vivian Zink/ABC Television Group © 2012 Disney Photo: Ellis Grey on Grey's Anatomy Season 8, Episode 13

Despite all the peculiarities of Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) imagined alternate reality in Grey's Anatomy Season 8, Episode 13: "If/Then," the medical situations in the episode's plot are very real in this world. Here's the scoop on some of those finer points.

Ellis botched a Whipple operation because she didn't receive vital information from Miranda Bailey (Chanda Wilson). The Whipple is a procedure named after its creator, Allan Whipple, who devised the operation in the 1930s. Back then, the Whipple had a 25% mortality rate, but it's much safer today. The Whipple is performed for patients who have pancreatic cancer or other diseases relating to the pancreas. The head of the pancreas is removed along with a portion of the individual's bile duct and gallbladder. On occasion, portions of the stomach may be removed as well. After the removal, the remainder of the pancreas and bile duct are connected back into the intestine to transition bodily secretions back into the individual's gut.

Ellis's patient developed thrombosis, the process by which the body forms a blood clot which obstructs the flow of blood through the body’s circulatory system. Thrombosis can be dangerous because if a clot forms and ends up shifting from its primary location, it may travel through the body to the lungs or heart where blood circulation is necessary for normal organ function. And that's bad news, ladies and gents!

Remember to tune in to the episode on Thursday, February 9, at 9 pm ET/PT on ABC.

Source: MedLine Plus

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