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Clin Anat. 2014 Oct;27(7):1038-45. doi: 10.1002/ca.22446. Epub 2014 Aug 4.

Pancreas divisum: a common developmental variant that deserves attention in preclinical medical education.

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Department of Medical Education, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.


Clinical literature indicates that pancreas divisum (PD) is present in 3-22% of the population and may be associated with an increased risk of pancreatitis. PD is a developmental variant wherein the duct systems derived from the dorsal and ventral pancreatic buds are not fused. Hence secretions from the head, neck, body, and tail, which develop from the dorsal bud, must pass through the minor duodenal papilla. The smaller uncinate process, derived from the ventral bud, drains through the major duodenal papilla. The purpose of this study was: (1) to do a cadaveric dissection to confirm whether PD is common in donors who had not been selected because they had pancreatitis and (2) to determine the frequency of PD descriptions in anatomy, embryology, pathology, and surgery books in our libraries. For our anatomical study, pancreata of eight human donors were dissected. Dye was injected into the ducts so that any communications between main and accessory ducts could be easily located. For our literature review, 22 anatomy, 14 embryology, 11 pathology, and 26 surgery books were examined for mention of PD. PD was unambiguously identified in two donor cadavers. However, only 14% of the anatomy plus embryology books compared to 70% of the surgery plus pathology books describe PD. Cadaveric dissection confirms that PD is indeed prevalent. The prevalence of PD with its increased risk of pancreatitis merits inclusion of this topic in textbooks of anatomy and embryology.


anatomy; donor cadaver; embryology; pancreas divisum; pathology; surgery; textbook

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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