The Pancreas: Anatomy, Functions and Diseases

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1. Describe the anatomic location of the pancreas relative to the other organs in the upper portion of the abdominal cavity. - The pancreas is about 6 inches long and sits across the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach and liver, leveled with the top of the small intestine and it also borders the liver, spleen and kidneys. The head of the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen and is connected to the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine) through a small tube called the pancreatic duct. The narrow end of the pancreas, called the tail, extends to the left side of the body.
2. Describe the functional anatomy of the duct system that conveys bile from the liver and digestive juice from the pancreas to the lumen of the duodenum. - When the liver cells secrete bile, it is collected by a system of ducts that flow from the liver through the right and left hepatic ducts. These ducts ultimately drain into the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct then joins with the cystic duct from the gallbladder to form the common bile duct, which runs from the liver to the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine). Then, when food is eaten, the gallbladder contracts and releases stored bile into the duodenum to help break down the fats. The enzymes secreted by the exocrine gland in the pancreas help break down carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and acids in the duodenum. These enzymes travel down the pancreatic duct into the bile duct in an inactive form. When they enter the duodenum, they are activated. The exocrine tissue also secretes a bicarbonate to neutralize stomach acid in the duodenum
3. Briefly outline the endocrine and exocrine functions of the pancreas. – The exocrine function helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar. Exocrine Function: The pancreas contains exocrine glands that produce enzymes important to digestion. When food enters the stomach, these pancreatic juices are released into a system of ducts

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