Pancreas-Definition, Location, anatomy, Function, Diseases


 The pancreas is located behind the stomach in the upper left abdomen and surrounded by liver, spleen, and small intestine. The pancreas is a mixed or heterocrine gland (both exocrine and endocrine) The exocrine portion secretes an alkaline pancreatic juice containing enzymes and the endocrine portion secretes hormones, insulin and glucagon. As a part of digestive system, it functions as an exocrine gland secreting pancreatic juice into the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. This juice contains bicarbonate , which neutralizes acid entering the duodenum from the stomach and digestive enzyme, which break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in food entering the duodenum from the stomach.

Pancreas is a vital part of digestive system and is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.

Pancreas Definition Location anatomy Function Diseases

Pancreas location

The pancreas is located behind the stomach in the upper left abdomen. It is surrounded by other organs including the small intestine, liver, and spleen. The head of the pancreas is on right side of the abdomen and is connected to the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. The tail of the pancreas extends to the left of body.

Pancreas Anatomy

The pancreas is about 6 inches(15 centimeters ) and shaped like a leaf sits across the back of abdomen, behind the stomach and surrounded by spleen, liver and small intestine.

The pancreas is typically divided into five part – the head, neck, body, tail, and uncinate process. The pancreas is made up of glandular tissue and  system of ducts.

Head: The head of the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen and is connected to the duodenum through the pancreatic duct. it is the widest part of lies within the C- shaped curve. The head is about 3.0 cm.

Uncinate process: a projection arising from the lower part of the head and extending medially to lie beneath the body of the pancreas. it lies posterior to the superior mesenteric vessels.

Neck: it is located between the head and the body of the pancreas. The neck is about 2 cm ( 0.79inch ) wide, and sits in front of where the portal vein is formed.

Body: The body is the largest part of the pancreas. it is centrally located, crossing the midline of the human body to lie behind the stomach and to the left of the superior mesenteric vessels. The body is about 2.0 cm.

Tail: The pancreas narrows towards the tail, which sits near to the spleen. it is usually between 1.3-3.5cm ( 0.51-1.38 inch ) long, and sits between the layers of the ligament between the spleen and the left kidney.  

Function of pancreas

The pancreas perform two main function-Exocrine function : produce substances ( enzymes ) that help in digestion. Endocrine function: send out hormones that control the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.

Exocrine function

The pancreas contains exocrine glands that produce enzymes important to digestion. These enzymes include trypsin and chymotrypsin to digestion proteins; amylase for the digestion of carbohydrates; and lipase to break down fat.

Trypsin and chymotrypsin      →  proteins 

Amylase      ⟶    Carbohydrate

Lipase       →    Fats

The pancreatic duct drains the enzymes produced into the first of intestine known as duodenum. The enzymes are made in an inactive form so they do not digest the pancreas itself once the inter the intestine , the enzymes are activated and can begin breaking food down.

Endocrine function

The endocrine component of the pancreas consists of islet cells (islets of Langerhans) that create and release important hormones directly into the bloodstream. They help in regulating the blood sugar levels of the body. Two of the main pancreatic hormones are insulin, which acts to lower blood sugar , and glucagon, which acts to raise blood sugar. 

The endocrine gland which consist of islets of Langerhans secretes hormones into blood stream.

Alpha cells   →  glucagon 

Beta cells     →  insulin

Delta cells   →   Somatostatin

Insulin:- When the blood glucose level rises, insulin is produce to lower the blood concentration. of glucose. 

Glucagon:- When the concentration of blood glucose level rises, insulin is produced to lower the blood concentration.

Somatostatin:- Functioning of alpha cell and beta cell is controlled by somatostatin.

Pancreatic diseases

Pancreatic diseases are diseases that effect the pancreas. The pancreas play a important role in the digestive and endocrine system, producing enzymes which aid the digestion process and the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels.

The most common pancreatic disease is pancreatitis. Other pancreatic diseases include diabetes mellitus, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, cystic fibrosis, pseudocysts, cysts, congenital malformations, tumors including pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas: These happens when digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself.

Cystic fibrosis: A genetic disorder in which thick, sticky mucus can also block tubes in your pancreas.



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