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.
Abdominal pain, usually in the mid-abdomen, that may be felt in the back
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.