Pancreatic Pathology Online

Developmental Defects of the Pancreas

 Dr Sampurna Roy MD              


The pancreas is formed by the fusion of the ventral and dorsal anlage.

Pancreas Development (Embryology)





A wide spectrum of anomalies or anatomical variations may appear related to this complicated process of fusion.

In adult patients with persistent and unexplained signs and symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting resulting from recurrent pancreatitis or gastric outlet obstruction, a developmental anomaly of the pancreas and pancreatic duct should be considered and imaging is recommended.

Four developmental disorders have been discussed.

Pancreas divisum

Heterotopic (ectopic) or accessory pancreas

Annular pancreas

Pancreatic Agenesis

Anatomic variations and developmental anomalies of the pancreas and pancreatic duct include variations of the course of the pancreatic duct (descending, sigmoid, vertical and loop shaped course), variation of the configuration of the pancreatic duct (bifid configuration with dominant duct of Wirsung, dominant duct of Santorini without divisum, absent duct of Santorini and ansa pancreatica), duplication anomalies, anomalous pancreaticobiliary ductal junction, pancreas divisum, annular pancreas, ectopic pancreas, pancreatic agenesis and hypoplasia of the dorsal pancreas and accessory pancreatic lobe.

Recognition of these anomalies is important because these anomalies may be a surgically correctable cause of recurrent pancreatitis or the cause of gastric outlet obstruction.

An awareness of these anomalies may help in surgical planning and prevention of inadvertent ductal injury.


Further reading:

A rare congenital anomaly of the pancreas: a cadaveric case report.

Congenital Variants and Anomalies of the Pancreas and Pancreatic Duct: Imaging by Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreaticography and Multidetector Computed Tomography

Congenital pancreatic anomalies, variants, and conditions.

Congenital anomalies and normal variants of the pancreaticobiliary tract and the pancreas in adults: part 2, Pancreatic duct and pancreas.

Congenital anomalies and normal variants of the pancreaticobiliary tract and the pancreas in adults: part 1, Biliary tract.

Congenital and developmental pancreatic anomalies: ultrasound, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging features.




Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)






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