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Digestive system
Digestive system


Endocrine glands
Endocrine glands


Pancreas
Pancreas


Pancreas divisum

Definition:

Pancreas divisum is a birth defect in which parts of the pancreas fail to join together. The pancreas is a long flat organ located between the stomach and spine that is involved in food digestion.



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Pancreas divisum is the most common birth defect of the pancreas. In many cases this defect goes undetected and causes no problems. The cause of the defect is unknown.

As a baby develops in the womb, two separate pieces of tissue join together to form the pancreas. Each part has a tube, called a duct. When the parts join together, a final duct called the pancreatic duct is formed. Fluid and digestive chemicals (enzymes) produced by the pancreas normally flow through this duct.

If the ducts fail to join together while the baby is developing in the womb, pancreas divisum results. Fluid from the two parts of the pancreas drains into separate areas of the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum). This occurs in 5 to 15% of people.

If a pancreatic duct becomes blocked, swelling and tissue damage (pancreatitis) may develop.



Symptoms:

Note: Unless you have pancreatitis, you will not have symptoms.



Signs and tests:

Treatment:

If you have this condition and have symptoms or pancreatitis that keeps returning, your doctor may recommend surgery.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

The outcome is usually good.



Complications:

The main complication of pancreas divisum is pancreatitis.



Calling your health care provider:

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of this disorder.



Prevention:

Because this condition is present at birth, there is no known way to prevent it.



References:

Forsmark CE. Pancreatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 146.




Review Date: 2/18/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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