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Test Taking Tips

  • Neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas are a favorite. Know the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and medical and surgical management, particularly in conjunction with multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes.

  • Pancreatic cyst fluid analysis is frequently tested. Be able to distinguish between a pseudocyst, serous cystadenoma, mucinous cystic neoplasm, and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm.


What is the duct of Wirsung?

  • Major pancreatic duct that forms in the pancreatic head and descends inferiorly and joins the intrapancreatic portion of the common bile duct to form the common pancreaticobiliary channel proximal to the ampulla of Vater

What is the duct of Santorini?

  • Accessory pancreatic duct that drains the anterior portion of the pancreatic head


Arterial supply to the pancreas. Multiple arcades in the head and body of the pancreas provide a rich blood supply. The head of the pancreas cannot be resected without devascularizing the duodenum unless a rim of pancreas containing the pancreaticoduodenal arcade is preserved. (Reproduced with permission from Brunicardi FC, Andersen DK, Billiar TR, et al. Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery, 11th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2019.)

What is the blood supply to the head of the pancreas?

  • Anterior and posterosuperior pancreaticoduodenal arteries from the gastroduodenal artery that form collaterals with branches of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) (inferoanterior and posterior pancreaticoduodenal arteries)

What is the venous drainage?

  • It parallels the arterial supply; drains into the portal system via the superior mesenteric and splenic veins

Which enzyme is responsible for pancreatic necrosis in the presence of bile?

  • Phospholipase A

What defines a high-output pancreatic fistula?

  • Output in excess of 200 mL/day


What are the etiologies of acute pancreatitis?

  • Gallstones and alcohol account for >90% of cases. Other causes include hyperlipidemia, hypercalcemia, trauma, pancreatic duct obstruction, ischemia, drugs, familial, and idiopathic.

What are some common medications implicated as possible etiologies of pancreatitis?

  • Azathioprine, furosemide, thiazides, sulfonamide, tetracycline, steroids, estrogens, ethacrynic acid, and H2 blockers

What metabolic conditions could cause pancreatitis?

  • Hyperlipidemia (types I, IV, and V have been implicated); hypercalcemia, which is most commonly found with hyperparathyroidism that could lead to intraductal precipitation of calcium

How is acute pancreatitis diagnosed?

  • The diagnosis of pancreatitis requires 2 of the following 3 features: abdominal pain characteristic of acute pancreatitis, a serum amylase or lipase level at least 3 times the ...

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