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Pancreatic duct

Recommended video: Pancreatic duct system [14:01]
The pancreatic ducts carry digestive enzymes from the pancreas to the duodenum.

The exocrine pancreas releases its secretions into the gastrointestinal tract through the main and accessory pancreatic ducts.

The main pancreatic duct travels within the entire parenchyma of the pancreas. The duct then joins the bile duct in a dilated space called the hepatopancreatic ampulla (ampulla of Vater) that then opens into descending part of the duodenum at the major duodenal papilla. The secretion of fluids into the duodenum is regulated by a smooth muscle sphincter known as the hepatopancreatic sphincter (of Oddi).

This sphincter surrounds the hepatopancreatic ampulla and acts as a valve for the  controlled flow of bile and pancreatic juices. The accessory duct (of Santorini) arises at the head of the pancreas and it communicates with the main pancreatic duct. It empties into the duodenum at the minor duodenal papilla. The function of the pancreatic duct is to drain pancreatic juice from the acinar cells of the tail, body, neck and posterior head of the pancreas into the duodenum. Various anatomical variations in the typical ductal drainage pattern exist, and this reflects the differences present during embryological development.

Terminology English: Pancreatic duct
Latin: Ductus pancreaticus
Location Extends from tail to head of pancreas
Function Drain pancreatic juices from the acinar cells of the pancreas into duodenum

Learn more about the pancreatic duct in this study unit: 

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