Pancreas:Anatomy,Function & Pancreatic Diseases


pancreas location

The pancreas is an elongated, tapered organ found across the back of the abdomen, backward the stomach. The pancreas is pale grey in color. It weighs about 60 g and measures about 12 to 15 cm in continuance. The pancreas can be separated into three parts: head, body, and tail. The head is broad and located in the curve of the duodenum. The body is positioned behind the stomach. The tail is narrow and located in front of the left kidney and continues till the spleen. The abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava are located behind the pancreas.




The pancreas is both an exocrine and endocrine gland.

  • Exocrine- The exocrine gland releases digestive enzymes.
  • Endocrine- The endocrine gland consists of the islets of Langerhans and discharges hormones into the bloodstream.


Functions of the Pancreas

Exocrine Function:

The pancreas contains exocrine glands that produce enzymes important to digestion.

The enzymes include:

  • Trypsin and chymotrypsin to digest proteins
  • Amylase for the digestion of carbohydrates
  • Lipase to break down fats

While food enters the stomach, those pancreatic juices are secreted inside a system of ducts that culminate in the main pancreatic duct. The pancreatic duct meets the common bile duct to make the ampulla of Vater that is positioned in the first portion of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. The common bile duct originates in the liver and the gallbladder and secretes another important digestive juice known as bile. The pancreatic juices and bile that are secreted within the duodenum, help the body to digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Endocrine Function:

The endocrine component of the pancreas consists of islets of Langerhans that secrete insulin and glucagon hormones directly into the bloodstream. Two of the main pancreatic hormones are insulin, that acts to lower blood sugar level, and glucagon, that acts to raise blood sugar.


  • Transfer glucose from the blood to the muscles and different tissues, for performance as energy
  • Supports the liver absorb glucose, filing it as glycogen, in fact, the body needs energy through stress or exercise

While blood sugar falls, pancreatic alpha cells secrete the hormone glucagon.

Glucagon induces glycogen to be broken down into glucose inside the liver.

The glucose next invades the bloodstream, returning blood sugar levels to normal.

Diseases of the Pancreas