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    Pancreas divisum

    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

    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.

    Ifa pancreatic ductbecomes blocked, swelling and tissue damage (pancreatitis) may develop.

    Symptoms

    • Abdominal pain, usually in the mid-abdomen, that may be felt in the back
    • Abdominal swelling (distention)
    • Nausea or vomiting

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

    Exams and Tests

    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Abdominal CT scan
    • Amylase and lipase blood test
    • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
    • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)

    Treatment

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

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    The outcome is usually good.

    Possible Complications

    The main complication of pancreas divisum is pancreatitis.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    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.

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    • Digestive system

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    • Endocrine glands

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    • Pancreas

      illustration

      • Digestive system

        illustration

      • Endocrine glands

        illustration

      • Pancreas

        illustration

      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Pancreas divisum

            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. 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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            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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