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Blausen 0699 PancreasAnatomy2.png
Anatomy of the pancreas
Illu pancreas duodenum.jpg
1: Head of pancreas
2: Uncinate process of pancreas
3: Pancreatic notch
4: Body of pancreas
5: Anterior surface of pancreas
6: Inferior surface of pancreas
7: Superior margin of pancreas
8: Anterior margin of pancreas
9: Inferior margin of pancreas
10: Omental tuber
11: Tail of pancreas
12: Duodenum
PrecursorPancreatic buds
ArteryInferior pancreaticoduodenal artery, anterior superior pancreaticoduodenal artery, posterior superior pancreaticoduodenal artery, splenic artery
VeinPancreaticoduodenal veins, pancreatic veins
NervePancreatic plexus, celiac ganglia, vagus nerve[1]
LymphSplenic lymph nodes, celiac lymph nodes and superior mesenteric lymph nodes
GreekΠάγκρεας (Pánkreas)
Anatomical terminology

The pancreas /ˈpæŋkriəs/ is an organ of the digestive system and endocrine system of vertebrates. In humans, it is located in the abdominal cavity behind the stomach.

The pancreas is a mixed gland, having both an endocrine and an exocrine function. As an endocrine gland, it secretes into the blood several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide.[2] As an exocrine gland, it secretes pancreatic juice into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. This juice contains bicarbonate, which neutralizes acid entering the duodenum from the stomach; and digestive enzymes, which break down carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in ingested food entering the duodenum from the stomach.


1. Bile ducts: 2. Intrahepatic bile ducts, 3. Left and right hepatic ducts, 4. Common hepatic duct, 5. Cystic duct, 6. Common bile duct, 7. Ampulla of Vater, 8. Major duodenal papilla
9. Gallbladder, 10–11. Right and left lobes of liver. 12. Spleen.
13. Esophagus. 14. Stomach. 15. Pancreas: 16. Accessory pancreatic duct, 17. Pancreatic duct.
18. Small intestine: 19. Duodenum, 20. Jejunum
21–22. Right and left kidneys.
The front border of the liver has been lifted up (brown arrow).[3]

The pancreas is an organ that in humans lies in the upper left part of the abdomen. It is found behind the stomach.[4] The pancreas is about 15 cm (6 in) long.[5]

Anatomically, the pancreas is divided into the head of pancreas, the neck of pancreas, the body of pancreas, and the tail of pancreas.[2] The head is surrounded by the duodenum in its concavity. The head surrounds two blood vessels, the superior mesenteric artery and vein. From the back of the head emerges a small uncinate process, which extends to the back of the superior mesenteric vein and ends at the superior mesenteric artery.[6] The neck is about 2.5 cm (1 in) long and lies between the head and the body and in front of the superior mesenteric artery and vein. Its front upper surface supports the pylorus (the base) of the stomach. The neck arises from the left upper part of the front of the head. It is directed first upward and forward, and then upward and to the left to join the body; it is somewhat flattened from above downward and backward. On the right it is grooved by the gastroduodenal artery. The body is the largest part of the pancreas and lies behind the pylorus, at the same level as the transpyloric plane.[7] The tail ends by abutting the spleen.

The pancreas is a secretory structure with an internal hormonal role (endocrine) and an external digestive role (exocrine). The endocrine part is composed of hormonal tissue distributed along the pancreas in discrete units called islets of Langerhans.[2] Islets of Langerhans have a well-established structure and form density routes through the exocrine tissue.[2] The exocrine part has two main ducts, the main pancreatic duct and the accessory pancreatic duct. These drain enzymes through the ampulla of Vater into the duodenum.[8]


The upper margin of the pancreas is blunt and flat to the right, and narrow and sharp to the left, near the tail.

It begins on the right in the omental tuber, and is in relation with the celiac artery, from which the hepatic artery courses to the right just above the gland, while the splenic artery runs toward the left in a groove along this border.

The lower margin of the pancreas separates the posterior from the inferior surface; the superior mesenteric vessels emerge under its right extremity.

The frontal margin of the pancreas separates the anterior from the inferior surface of the pancreas, and along this border the two layers of the transverse mesocolon diverge from one another, one passing upward over the frontal surface, the other backward over the inferior surface.

  1. ^ Physiology: 6/6ch2/s6ch2_30 - Essentials of Human Physiology
  2. ^ a b c d Cite error: The named reference :0 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Standring S, Borley NR, eds. (2008). Gray's anatomy : the anatomical basis of clinical practice. Brown JL, Moore LA (40th ed.). London: Churchill Livingstone. pp. 1163, 1177, 1185–6. ISBN 978-0-8089-2371-8.
  4. ^ Khan, Ali Nawaz. "Chronic Pancreatitis Imaging". Medscape. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Cancer of the Pancreas". NHS. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  6. ^ Drake, Richard L.; Vogl, Wayne; Tibbitts, Adam W. M. Mitchell; illustrations by Richard; Richardson, Paul (2005). Gray's anatomy for students. Philadelphia: Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone. pp. 288–90, 297, 303. ISBN 978-0808923060.
  7. ^ Bålens ytanatomi (surface anatomy). Godfried Roomans, Mats Hjortberg and Anca Dragomir. Institution for Anatomy, Uppsala. 2008.
  8. ^ Young, Barbara, ed. (2006). Wheater's functional histology : a text and colour atlas (5th ed.). Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. pp. 299–301. ISBN 978-0443068508.