QS Study

Gross anatomy of Pancreas

The pancreas is a soft, tabulated, greyish-pink gland that is both exocrine and endocrine. It is an abdominal glandular organ with both digestive (exocrine) and hormonal (endocrine) functions.


  • On the posterior abdominal wall behind the peritoneum. It crosses the transpyloric plane.
  • It lies in the epigastrium and the left hypochondrium.

Vertebra level: L1&2

Length: 15 to 20 cm long.

Breadth: 3 cm broad.

Thickness: 2 cm thick.

Weight: 90g.

Parts – Head, neck, body, and tail.

Head Shape – flattened anteroposteriorly.

Location – Within the duodenal curve.

Parts –

  • 2 surfaces: Anterior and posterior.
  • 4 borders: Upper, lower, right, and left.

Uncinate process – It is the hook-like part of the head that extends to the left behind the superior mesenteric vessels.

Fig: parts of Pancreas

Relations –

(a) The superior border:

  • Overlapped by 1st part by duodenum,
  • Related to a superior pancreaticoduodenal artery.

(b) The inferior border: Related to –

  • 3rd part of the duodenum.
  • Inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery.

(c) The right lateral border: Related to –

  • 2nd part of the duodenum.
  • The terminal part of the bile duct.
  • Anastomosis between 2 pancreaticoduodenal arteries.

(d) The anterior surface: Related to –

  • The gastroduodenal artery.
  • The transverse colon
  • The jejunum.

(e) The posterior surface: Related to –

  • Inferior vena cava.
  • Renal veins.
  • Right crus of the diaphragm.
  • Bile duct.

(f) Uncinate process: Related to –

  • Anteriorly – superior mesenteric vessels.
  • Posteriorly – Aorta.

Neck – It is the constricted portion of the pancreas and connects the head to the body. It overlies the superior mesenteric vessels which form a groove in its posterior aspect.

The head of the pancreas lies in the loop of the duodenum as it exits the stomach.

Body – centrally located, crossing the midline of the human body to lie behind the stomach and to the left of the superior mesenteric vessels.

  • It is triangular in cross-section,
  • 3 borders – superior, anterior, and inferior.
  • 3 surfaces – Anterior, posterior and inferior.

Tail – It is narrow and passes forward in the splenorenal ligament, together with the splenic vessels. This is the only part of the pancreas that is intraperitoneal.

Ducts of the pancreas – Two ducts: Main and accessory.

Main pancreatic duct: It receives numerous tributaries which join it at right angles to its long axis. The duct joins the bile duct to form the hepatopancreatic ampulla of Vater which opens on the summit of the major duodenal papilla.

Accessory duct: Opens into the duodenum at the minor duodenal papilla.

Blood supply

Arterial supply by:

(1) Pancreatic branch of the splenic artery.

(2) Superior pancreaticoduodenal artery.

(3) Inferior pancreaticoduodenal artery.