Functions and facts of the pancreas - RECOGNISING - TREATING - RESEARCHING
A vital organ
It plays a central role in digestion and the regulation of blood sugar:
- Exocrine function: production of digestive enzymes which split vitally essential proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the colon.
- Endocrine function: production of hormones like insulin and glucagon, which regulate the blood sugar level.
The pancreas lies in the middle of the upper abdomen between spleen, liver and stomach in a c-shaped loop of the duodenum, fixed to the back wall of the abdomen and connected to the gall bladder.
The pancreas can be divided into three parts: head, body and tail. It is 15-20cm long, around 3 – 3.5cm broad and weighs between 60 and 70 grams. The pancreas is fed by three large blood vessels: abdominal aorta, intestinal artery and spleen artery.
Warning signals of a pancreatic illness could be:
Loss of appetite, indisposition, faintness, depression, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, steatorrhea (fatty stools), unintentional weight loss, a feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen or back pain at belt height, signs of jaundice and blood sugar lapses.