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A study of pancreas and its functions

Medically Reviewed by Kacy Church, MD The pancreas, which is an important part of your digestive tract, has two critical roles. The pancreas is located behind the stomach in the upper-left area of the abdomen. The digestive system, which breaks down food into tiny components that are then absorbed into the body, is made up of numerous organs in addition to the pancreas, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines.

Anatomy of Your Pancreas Your pancreas is located in the upper left area of your abdomen, behind your stomach and near your duodenum, the first section of your small intestine. The organ measures about 6 inches long and weighs about one-fifth of a pound.

Looking somewhat like a sweet potato, the pancreas is made up of a bulbous head and neck, a tubular body, and a narrow, pointy tail.

  • Lose weight and stay fit;
  • This meeting point is called the ampulla of Vater;
  • A healthy pancreas makes about 2;
  • Bile is a greenish-yellow fluid that aids in the digestion of fats in food;
  • 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;
  • These cell clusters release insulin, glucagon, and other hormones directly into the bloodstream, helping control the body's blood sugar level.

The pancreas contains a tubelike structure called the main pancreatic duct, which runs from the tail to the head of the organ. The joined ducts exit from the pancreas's head and connect to the duodenum.

Pancreas: Anatomy and Functions

Some people also have an additional pancreatic duct, sometimes known as the duct of Santorini, which connects to another part of the duodenum. Your pancreas has two main responsibilities: It helps the body digest food, and it helps regulate blood sugar. More than 95 percent of the pancreas's mass is made up of cells and tissues that produce pancreatic juices containing digestive enzymes such as amylase, lipase, elastase, and nucleases. The pancreatic juices, along with bile from the gallbladder, empty into the small intestine at the duodenum, where they assist in digesting food.

Clusters of cells called the islets of Langerhans make up much of the rest of the pancreas.

  • This can cause complications throughout your body, including;
  • The splenic artery runs along the top margin of the pancreas, and supplies the neck, body and tail of the pancreas through its pancreatic branches, the largest of which is called the greater pancreatic artery.

These cell clusters release insulin, glucagon, and other hormones directly into the bloodstream, helping control the body's blood sugar level. Can You Live Without a Pancreas? Only those with pancreatic cancer, severe cases of pancreatitis, or other diseases of the pancreas face the possibility of having to live without one.

In those cases, the entire pancreas would be removed, and you'd be prescribed drugs that could help your body carry out the functions previously handled by the pancreas.

The Pancreas Center

You would develop diabetes, however, and become dependent on insulin shots to regulate your blood sugar level. But this procedure, called a pancreatectomy, is rarely done, and more often than not, only part of the pancreas is removed. The pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream after you eat. This hormone helps your body absorb sugar into the bloodstream so you can use it for energy. Diabetes develops because there are problems either with the insulin cells in the pancreas or the pancreas's ability to produce insulin.

Type 1 diabetes often develops in childhood. As a result, the sugar stays in the bloodstream and can cause damage to certain tissues, which may lead to damage of the nerves and kidneys and even blindness. Diabetes can be managed with injections of insulin.

Exercise, weight loss, and a healthier diet can help manage your blood sugar level so that you might not need the insulin. It's not clear what exactly causes type 1 diabetes, but researchers think that genetics, environment, and perhaps even viruses a study of pancreas and its functions play a role. Being overweight or obese and sedentary, and having the condition in the family, are some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

All About the Pancreas: Anatomy, Function, and Its Connection to Diabetes

Having diabetes does not automatically put you at risk for pancreatic cancer, but there are cases in which there may be a relationship between the two. Studies have estimated that only 1 to 2 percent of people with recently developed diabetes will develop cancer in three years. In 2017, 53,670 people developed pancreatic cancer and 43,090 people died from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Additional reporting by Carlene Bauer.

  • Your pancreas has two main responsibilities;
  • The pancreas is a gland organ with a key role in digestion and glucose control;
  • These cell clusters release insulin, glucagon, and other hormones directly into the bloodstream, helping control the body's blood sugar level;
  • Pancreatic cancer may be difficult to detect at first because the pancreas is tucked away behind several large organs that may make it difficult for your doctor to pinpoint a tumor with a physical examination or imaging tests;
  • Pancreatitis Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when pancreatic enzyme secretions build up and begin to digest the organ itself.

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