Digestive System Home > Pancreas

The pancreas is a gland that is situated between the stomach and the spine and is surrounded by the liver, the intestine, and other organs. It is about 6 inches long and is shaped like a pear turned on its side. It is used by the body to make insulin, other hormones, and pancreatic juices. The pancreatic juices contain enzymes that help digest food.

What Is the Pancreas?

The pancreas is a gland that is located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine (backbone) and is surrounded by the liver, the intestine, and other organs. The pancreas is about 6 inches long and is shaped like a flat pear. The widest part of the pancreas is called the head, the middle section of the pancreas is referred to as the body, and the thinnest part of the pancreas is known as the tail.
 

What Role Does the Pancreas Play in the Body?

The role of the pancreas is to make insulin, other hormones, and pancreatic juices. The hormones enter the bloodstream, travel throughout the body, and help the body use or store the energy that comes from food. The pancreatic juices contain enzymes that help digest food. The pancreas releases the juices into a system of ducts that leads to the common bile duct. The common bile duct empties into the duodenum, which is the first section of the small intestine.
 
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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