What is Pancreas

The Pancreas is composed of racemose glands, very similar structure to salivary glands. It is about 23cm(7 inches) long ,extending from the duodenum to the spleen, and is described as consisting of three parts .

The head of the pancreas, the broadest part, lies to the right of the abdominal cavity and in the curve of the duodenum, which practically encircles it.

The body of the pancreas is the main part of the organ; it lies behind the stomach and in lies front of the first lumber vertebra.

The tail of the pancreas is a narrow part to the left, which actually touches the spleen.

The substance of the pancreas is composed of lobules of secretory cells arranged round tiny ducts, which begin by the junction of the small ducts of lobules situated in the tail of the pancreas. It passes through the body from left to right, receiving ducts from other lobules and uniting to form the main duct, the duct of Wirsung.

FUNCTIONS: The pancreas has two main functions.

The exocrine functions are carried out by the secretory cells of its lobules, which from pancreatic juice containing enzymes and electrolytes. This digestive fluid passes through tiny excretory ducts and is finally collected by two ducts, a main one called the duct of Wirsung, and an accessory duct, of Santorin, which open into the duodenum. The main ducts join the bile duct at the ampulla of vater. The pancreas is supplied by the Vagus nerve, and within the few minutes of taking food, the flow of pancreatic juice is increased. Later, when the gastric content passes into duodenum two hormones, secretin and pancreozymin are formed in its mucosa which further stimulates the flow of pancreatic juice.

The endocrine function Scattered between the alveoli of the pancreas are small groups of epithelial cells, quite separate and distinct. These are Islets of Langerhans which collectively form an endocrine organ .their nerve supply is form the vagus and their blood supply from large capillary loops.


Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas is associated with disorders of the biliary tract; the conditions may be acute or chronic; it is characterized by pain, distaste for food, nausea and vomiting. Some degree of pancreatic insufficiency often follows and diabetes may occur.

The Islets of Langerhans of the pancreas secreting insulin, the anti diabetic hormone, given in treatments of diabetes. Insulin is a protein which can be acted on by the protein digestive ferments and therefore is not given by mouth but by subcutaneous injection. Insulin controls the diabetes, restores the ability of the body cells to absorb and use glucose and fats.

Clinically, deficiency results in hyperglycaemia, a high blood sugar, loss of weight, fatigue and polyuria, with its accompanying thirst, hunger, dry skin, dry mouth and tongue. It also causes ketosis with acidosis and an increased rate of breathing.

The second condition is one of hypoglycaemia; low blood sugar may be produced by an overdose of insulin or by a patient not eating food taken after the injection of insulin when the excess in his blood may lead to hypoglycaemic coma.

The coma in a patient with diabetes may be due to lack of insulin (diabetic coma), which is treated with large doses of insulin or too much insulin (hypoglycaemic coma) which is treated with glucose.

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