Pancreas divisum is a congenital abnormality in which the ducts of the pancreas do not join. Your pancreas is an organ located between your stomach and spine that helps with food digestion.
If you have pancreas divisum and you develop pancreatitis, you may need surgery. The doctors at MedStar Georgetown are experts in pancreatic disease and surgery. They will guide you throughout the diagnosis and treatment process.
Formation of Pancreas Divisum
This defect begins in the womb, as the baby develops. The pancreas is made from two separate pieces that form the pancreatic duct. When the two parts do not join, it results in pancreas divisum. Sometimes, this defect is never detected and causes no problem. However, if the pancreatic ducts become blocked, swelling and tissue damage (pancreatitis) can develop.
The symptoms you may experience are due to pancreatitis; you will not experience symptoms due to pancreas divisum alone.
- Abdominal pain that may be felt in the back as well
- Abdominal swelling (called distention)
- Nausea or vomiting
Diagnosing Pancreatitis Due to Pancreas Divisum
Your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination and may order one or more of the following tests:
- Abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan, an imaging method, uses X-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of your abdominal area.
- Amylase and lipase blood test measures enzymes that appear elevated in the blood when the pancreas is damaged.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP, uses an endoscope to show stones or tumors in your bile ducts.
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, or MRCP, a special type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam, produces detailed images of your pancreatic system, including your gallbladder and bile ducts.
Treating Pancreas Divisum
If you have pancreas divisum with symptoms or pancreatitis that keeps returning, you will probably need endoscopic treatment. If that fails, surgery may be necessary. MedStar Georgetown has a staff of skilled doctors who are experienced in performing these surgical procedures. Our dedicated nurse navigator will guide you every step of the way, from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up care.