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Pancreas

Bryan Applications, P

One of the most important organs in the body, the pancreas is an elongated gland which is described as having a head, a neck, a body, and a tail. The head is tucked into the loop formed by the duodenum, while the body stretches across the abdomen in front of the aorta and behind the stomach, so that the tail comes into contact with the spleen.

The larger part of the glandular tissue is concerned in manufacturing the pancreatic juice, the uses of which are described under the heading Digestion. The main duct, which pours the juice into the bowel, is called the duct of Wirsung. Scattered throughout the pancreatic substance, however, are little collections of cells, known as the islets of Langerhans, the function of which is to produce the internal secretion known as insulin, which accelerates the burning up of sugar in the body.

Diseases of the pancreas:

Inflammation of the pancreas, similar to that occurring in the parotid and other glands, may occur in mumps. In acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis, which usually occurs in adult males, there is free bleeding into the pancreas. There is severe colicky pain in the upper abdomen, vomiting and collapse. The abdomen is swollen and tense, and there is constipation. This disorder may cause sudden death, or the end may be delayed for a few days; in a few instances, however, the patient has recovered.

In chronic pancreatitis the glandular tissue is replaced by fibrous tissue, and consequently there is impairment in the digestive functions, though the appearance of such may be delayed for a time by the work being done by the gastric and other juices. There tend to be lumps of fat in the feces, however, showing the lack of digestion of the food. Another consequence is the loss of the insulin supply, and the supervention of diabetes.

Alcoholism, syphilis and arterial disease appear to be the main causes of chronic pancreatitis. Cancer, which is much the most usual new growth found in the pancreas, usually occurs in the head portion. It causes indigestion, pain in the pit of the stomach and rapid wasting. An early operation has sometimes been successful in eradicating the disease. A cyst sometimes forms in the pancreas and may become sufficiently large as to cause a bulging in the upper part of the abdomen. There may be attacks of indigestion and pain, suggestive of the presence of gallstones. Calculi may form in the pancreas itself and may give no trouble, though they may cause inflammation or lead to the development of a cyst. The pancreas of animals used for food is called the sweetbread; it is easily digested. See: Abdominal pain.. Diabetes.. Digestion..

Application and treatment:

For applications; See: Abdominal pain.. Diabetes.. Digestion..