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The size of the pancreas in humans: norms and deviations
The size of the pancreas in humans: norms and deviations

The pancreas has two important functions: digestive and endocrine. Under the influence of malnutrition and frequent stress, disturbances in the functioning of the organ occur, including a change in its size, which is difficult to determine only by palpation. Therefore, more and more doctors use instrumental diagnostic methods, one of which is ultrasound. With the help of ultrasound, it is possible to determine the size of the pancreas, the norm in adults and children of which depends on the age of the person.

What is the normal size of the pancreas?

Although the size of an organ can change throughout life, an increase in any segment indicates the presence of pathology. If the doctor has identified deviations from the norm, after the diagnosis is made, treatment should be started urgently.

An ultrasound scan of the pancreas is performed using a transducer through the abdominal wall. At the same time, the skin surface is covered with a special gel. First, the doctor assesses how the dimensions of the pancreas correspond to the norm.

The organ is located in the left hypochondrium and consists of a body, head and tail. Dimensions are determined both for the organ as a whole and for each of its individual parts.

The norm in adults

A healthy pancreas in an adult has the following dimensions:

  • length: 16-23 centimeters;
  • width: 9 centimeters;
  • thickness: 3 centimeters;
  • body width: 21-25 millimeters;
  • head width: 32-35 millimeters;
  • tail width: 30-35 millimeters;
  • thickness of the Wirsung duct: 2 millimeters.

Some deviations from these indicators, both upward and downward, do not always indicate pathology. The decision on how critical the changes are is made exclusively by the attending physician.

The norm in children

The pancreas grows with a person until he is eighteen years old.

In newborn children, the size of the organ does not exceed 5 centimeters in length and 5-6 millimeters in width.

By five months, the pancreas becomes one centimeter larger, and by ten years it reaches 15 centimeters.

The rapid increase in the size of the pancreas occurs during puberty. By adulthood, the organ reaches the standard dimensions for an adult, and its growth stops.

Today, ultrasound of the abdominal cavity is performed without fail for children under one year old. With the help of this diagnosis, congenital diseases of the pancreas can be detected.

Standard organ sizes in children are based on weight, sex, height and age. Depending on these parameters, the rate will vary:

between the ages of 4 and 6:

  • head: 7-9 millimeters;
  • body: 6-8 millimeters;
  • tail: 9-11 millimeters.

between the ages of 7 and 9:

  • head: 12-14 mm;
  • body: 8-10 millimeters;
  • tail: 14-16 millimeters.

between the ages of 13 and 15:

  • head: 16-17 mm;
  • body: 12-14 millimeters;
  • tail: 17-18 millimeters.

The size of the pancreas in children is proportional. The thickest part is the head, the tail is the second largest, and the body itself is the smallest.

If one of the parts is enlarged and differs from the norm, then this indicates the development of an inflammatory process or tumor. In this case, it is necessary to conduct additional examinations.

What is the reason for the increase in the pancreas

The increased size of the pancreas indicates violations in the work of the organ:

  • acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas leads to an increase in one of the parts of the organ);
  • flu, hepatitis, intestinal infection;
  • blockage by a gallstone of the Wirsung duct, which leads to its obstruction;
  • abscess in the region of the pancreas head;
  • cystic adenoma;
  • malignant or benign tumor in the pancreas or duodenum;
  • inflammation of the duodenum;
  • accumulation of fatty deposits in the tissues of the pancreas.

Iron also increases with frequent drinking, abdominal trauma, autoimmune diseases, or after taking medication. Congenital anomalies of the organ also contribute to the deviation from normal indicators.

An enlarged pancreas affects nearby organs. For example, the head of the gland can compress the duodenum and contribute to the development of intestinal obstruction. Therefore, gastroenterologists recommend conducting a comprehensive examination of the abdominal organs.

Shrinkage of the pancreas: possible causes

A decrease in the size of the pancreas is diagnosed much less often. Before looking for the causes of this phenomenon, you need to find out the age of the patient.

If a person is already fifty years old, then the decrease in the organ is explained by physiological reasons and is the norm.

In young people, pathology can be a sign of such diseases:

  • swelling of the head of the pancreas;
  • chronic pancreatitis;
  • violation of the blood supply to the organ.

As noted by gastroenterologists, the pancreas can decrease due to the coincidence of several factors at once. For example, against the background of pancreatitis, a head tumor occurs.

The phenomenon is especially dangerous for people between the ages of forty-five and fifty.

If in the conclusion of the ultrasound you saw a record that the size of the pancreas differs from the standard norms, do not be discouraged ahead of time. The correct diagnosis can only be made by a doctor, guided by the data of instrumental examination, laboratory diagnostics and clinical manifestations.

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