Pancreatic divisum is a congenital anomaly in the anatomy of the ducts of the pancreas in which a single pancreatic duct is not formed, but rather remains as two distinct dorsal and ventral ducts.
The human embryo begins life with two ducts in the pancreas these are the ventral duct and the dorsal duct. Normally, the two ducts will fuse together to form one main pancreatic duct; this occurs in more than 90% of embryos. In approximately 10% of embryos the ventral and dorsal ducts fail to fuse together, resulting in pancreas divisum. In utero, the majority of the pancreas is drained by the dorsal duct which opens up into the minor papilla. The ventral duct drains the minority of the pancreas and opens into the major papilla. In adults however, this situation is reversed whereby 70% of the pancreas is drained by the ventral duct. Therefore in pancreas divisum, where fusion of the ducts does not occur, the major drainage of the pancreas is done by the dorsal duct which opens up into the minor papilla.
A majority of individuals born with pancreas divisum will never have symptoms for their entire life. In most cases, pancreas divisum is only detected during an autopsy of a person that is deceased. However, approximately 1% of those with pancreas divisum will develop symptoms during their lifetime. Symptoms commonly include abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting, and pancreatitis. A small number of individuals may develop chronic pancreatitis.....
Pancreas divisum in individuals with no symptoms does not require treatment. Treatment of those with symptoms varies and has not been well established. A surgeon may attempt a sphincterotomy by cutting the minor papilla to enlarge the opening and allow pancreatic enzymes to flow normally. During surgery, a stent may be inserted into the duct to ensure that the duct will not close causing a blockage. This surgery can cause pancreatitis in patients, or in rare cases, kidney failure and death.