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.

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.

A.D.A.M. qualityA.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorousstandards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information andservices. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorialpolicy, editorialprocess, and privacypolicy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch.)

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatmentof 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. © 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication ordistribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M.