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The pancreas is an organ approximately six inches long that is located in the abdomen behind the stomach. The pancreas is divided into three regions; the head, the body, and the tail. The head of the pancreas is located in the right abdomen adjacent to the duodenum, the tail is in the left abdomen, and the body lies between the head and the tail. The pancreas makes several hormones that are released into the blood -- including insulin to regulate blood glucose levels and digestive enzymes that aid in the digestion of food, for example, amylase.

The digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas are combined in a bicarbonate-rich fluid also produced by the pancreas. The pancreatic duct within the pancreas collects the bicarbonate-rich fluid and digestive enzymes and drains them into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine just beyond the stomach.

The common duct (also called the common bile duct) collects bile (a fluid that helps digest fat) produced by the liver. Like the pancreatic duct, the common duct also drains into the duodenum. In fact, the common duct usually joins the pancreatic duct in the head of the pancreas. The union of these two ducts forms the ampulla of Vater which drains both bile and pancreatic fluid into the duodenum.

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Archived: March 20, 2014

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Read the Original Article: Pancreatic Cysts