The Pancreas is a gland in the body that plays two roles. It is both an endocrine and exocrine gland. As an endocrine gland it produces important hormones in the body such as insulin which lowers blood glucose level, glucagon which elevates blood glucose level and somatostatin which acts as an inhibitory or regulatory hormone for both glucagon and insulin. As an exocrine gland, it produces pancreatic juice down the small intestine in order to break down carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. But where is the pancreas located in the body?
Where is it Located?
The Pancreas is located on the epigastrium and left hypochondrium area of the abdomen. If the abdomen is divided into four quadrants, it is located on the first quadrant which is on the upper right portion of the abdomen. The pancreas is 6 inches in length. Its head lied in the concavity of the abdomen, its body lies behind the stomach and its tail lies in contact with the spleen.
Common Diseases of the Pancreas
Having a dual function, the pancreas plays an important role in maintaining digestive homeostasis in the body. Common diseases associated with pancreas are as follows:
1. Diabetes Mellitus type 1
In Diabetes type 1, the immune system damaged the insulin producing cells in the pancreas thus the organ could not produce insulin at all. With this, the person needs insulin therapy to control blood sugar and treatment with insulin is usually life time.
2. Cystic fibrosis
This is a genetic disorder that affects the endocrine function of the pancreas.
3. Pancreatic cancer
The cells that line the pancreatic duct are the ones that are usually affected and pancreatic cancer does not have any early symptoms thus when the condition is diagnosed, the cancer is already in its advance stage.
This condition is caused by the pancreatic juice. The digestive chemicals that the pancreas produces could not get out of the duct and starts digesting the pancreas itself. Hypocalcemia can happen and cause respiratory arrest.
These are some of the diseases that are associated with pancreas. To know the current status of your pancreas, you can have your pancreas checked by a doctor. Physical assessment, blood tests and imaging studies can be done to check the integrity of the pancreas. In physical assessment, the physician will palpate and measure the size of the pancreas to feel whether it is enlarged or if there are any tumors in it. Blood analysis can be done to check the level of lipase and amylase which when elevated shows sign of pancreatitis. Imaging studies that can directly see the pancreas are as follows: CT scan or computed tomography scan, ultrasound and Magnetic resonance imaging.