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.
Pancreas divisum is the most common birth defect of the pancreas. In many cases this defect goes undetected. The cause of the defect is unknown.
As a baby develops in the womb, two seperate pieces of tissue join together to form the pancreas. Each part has tubes, called ducts. When the parts join together, a final duct is formed. Fluids and chemicals from 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 and fluid from the pancreas drains into the wrong area.
If the pancreatic ducts become blocked, symptoms similar to pancreatitis may develop.
Note: There may be no symptoms.
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal distention
Exams and Tests
- Abdominal CT scan
- Amylase and lipase blood test
- ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
If you have this condition and have symptoms or recurrent pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend surgery to bypass or reconstruct the defective ducts.
The probable outcome is good with treatment.
The main complication of pancreas divisum is pancreatitis.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of this disorder develop.
Because this condition is present at birth, there is no known prevention.
Mulholland MW, Moosa AR, Liddle RA: Pancreas: anatomy and structural anomalies. In: Yamada T, ed. Textbook of Gastroenterology. Philadelphia, Pa: JB Lippincott; 1995.
Kamisawa T, Egawa N, Tu Y, et al. Pancreatographic investigation of embryology of complete and incomplete pancreas divisum. Pancreas. Jan 2007;34(1):96-102.