Anatomy and Functionality

The pancreas is a glandular organ located at the level of the posterior wall of the abdomen in relation to the stomach in front and the great vessels and the vertebral column behind. In the adult, its length is on average 15 cm for a weight of about 80-100 g. It is possible to distinguish three portions: the head, which represents the right end in relation to the duodenal wall, with greater vertical length and from whose lower edge the uncinate process starts; the body, with greater transverse length and elongated, separated from the head by a narrowing called the isthmus; the tail, terminal portion of the gland, direct continuation of the pancreatic body ending in the splenic hilum.

The pancreas is traversed throughout its entire length by a small duct that opens into the duodenum, known as Wirsung's duct or main pancreatic duct. This duct, at the level of the upper portion of the head, is associated with a smaller duct that also opens into the duodenum, the Santorini duct or accessory duct.

The pancreas is a gland that has both endocrine and exocrine functions:

  • Participates in the digestive function through the enzymes contained in the pancreatic juice discharged into the duodenum,
  • It is primarily responsible for glucose metabolism through a hormone, insulin, produced and released into the blood by a particular group of pancreatic cells (islet of Langerhans beta cells).