Computed tomography of the pancreas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The pancreas is a tongue-shaped retroperitoneal organ (Fig. 1). It is located within the anterior pararenal space along with the ascending and descending colon as well as the duodenum. The pancreas is divided into the uncinate process, head, neck, body, and tail. The long axis of the gland most commonly follows an oblique course with the head at the 8 o’clock position and the tail at 2 o’clock. The normal dimensions of the pancreas depend on many factors, the most important of which is age. The head should measure up to 3.0-3.5 cm, the body up to 2.5 cm, and the tail up to 2.0 cm. Generally the gland tapers in size from head to tail. Fatty infiltration of the gland lobules is common with age. This gives the gland a more lace-like or feathery appearance. The pancreatic duct runs through the entire length of the gland and may measure up to 3.0 mm in the head and gradually tapers to the tail. It is often partially visualized, more commonly in thin section computed tomography (CT). The common bile duct passes through the pancreatic head before it joins the pancreatic duct near the ampulla of Vater. The size of the common bile duct (CBD) in the pancreatic head varies with age as well but should never exceed 10 mm, often attaining the larger diameters on patients post-cholecystectomy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEndocrine Surgery
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780203912997
ISBN (Print)9780824742973
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


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