My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Ask Your Question

WebMD Answers

120 Characters remaining
120 Characters remaining
  • First, try and keep your question as short as possible.
  • Include specific words that will help us identify questions that may already have your answer.
  • If you don't find your answer, you can post your question to WebMD Experts and Contributors.


Posted: | Report This Report Question |

Can you live without a pancreas?

Related Topics: Pancreas

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

Internal Medicine
Emory University
131 Answers
110,646 Helpful Votes

Yes. The pancreas has two main functions: secretion of insulin, which controls blood sugar levels, and secretion of digestive enzymes and hormones. Although not a perfect solution, these functions can be replaced through insulin injections and oral pancreatic enzymes with meals.

Surgery to remove the pancreas completely is rarely done, so very few people have no pancreas at all. Much more common is having a pancreas that doesn’t work properly. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops making insulin but continues to make digestive enzymes. In cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatitis, both insulin and enzyme production are often impaired. After surgery to remove part of the pancreas (such as for pancreatic cancer), in some cases the remaining pancreas can’t make enough insulin, enzymes, or both.

People with diabetes are at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes, and low pancreatic enzymes can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Artificial replacement doesn’t work as well as a healthy pancreas, but it allows many people with pancreatic insufficiency to live full, active lives.

This answer should not be considered medical advice...down arrowThis answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.up arrow

| Report This Report Answer

Was this helpful?


Thanks for your feedback.

5762 of 6504 found this helpful