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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The pancreas

The pancreas is part of the digestive system. It lies in the upper half of the abdomen, well above the navel, on a level with the V where the ribs meet at the front. It is deep inside the abdomen, lying just in front of the spine. It is about 15cm (6 inches) long. The large rounded section on the right-hand side of the body is called the head of the pancreas, the middle part is known as the body of the pancreas and the narrow part on the left-hand side of the body is called the tail of the pancreas. The head of the pancreas lies next to the first part of the small intestine, which is called the duodenum.


The position of the pancreas
The position of the pancreas

The pancreas produces pancreatic juice (a fluid which helps to digest food) and insulin (a hormone which enables the body to use sugars and store fats). The digestive juices produced by the pancreas flow down a tube (the pancreatic duct) into the duodenum. The bile duct drains bile from the liver, into the duodenum, and joins the pancreatic duct at the sphincter of Oddi just as it enters the duodenum.

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