The pancreas is part of the digestive system and performs two main functions:
- Produce pancreatic juices, which help the body digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Make insulin, a hormone that lets the body use sugars and store fat.
The pancreas is located in the upper half of the abdomen behind the stomach and in front of the spine. It is about 15 cm long.
The round part is called the head of the pancreas and is located beside the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). The middle part is known as the body of the pancreas. The narrow part is called the tail of the pancreas and is on your left side.
The pancreatic juices travel through small tubes (ducts) inside the pancreas toward a larger duct called the pancreatic duct. This joins up with the bile duct, which originates in the liver and continues to the gall bladder. Pancreatic juices flow throughout the pancreatic duct to the duodenum, where they help in digesting food.