Authors: Deepali Jain, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 7 December 2017, last major update August 2012

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed search: Embryology[TIAB] pancreas
Cite this page: Jain, D. Embryology. website. Accessed October 23rd, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Forms from embryonic foregut, of endodermal origin (Wikipedia: Pancreas [Accessed 7 December 2017])
  • Pancreas forms from ventral and dorsal buds that rotate and fuse
  • Ventral bud (anlage) develops from hepatic duct, forms posterior / inferior head and uncinate process
  • Dorsal bud (anlage) develops from foregut and extends into dorsal mesentery; forms body, tail, anterior head
  • Fusion of ducts at week 7 creates main pancreatic duct (Wirsung) which extends to papilla of Vater, usually with common bile duct
  • Proximal portion of dorsal duct persists as accessory duct of Santorini, empties into minor duodenal papilla
  • Usually are numerous anastomotic connections between ducts of Wirsung and Santorini; if not, get pancreas divisum (10% of individuals), in which duct of Santorini is major drainage duct
  • Percentage of acinar cells decreases after birth

  • Anomalies:
    • In 2/3 of adults, pancreatic duct empties into common bile duct, not into ampulla directly
    • Abnormal fusion of ventral and dorsal buds causes annular pancreas or heterotopic pancreas
Diagrams / tables

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Development of human pancreas

Images hosted on other servers:

Various images

Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

10 week old fetus

10 week old fetus - dorsal pouch: individual or clustered insulin (A), glucagon (B), pancreatic polypeptide (C) and somatostatin (D) cells stained with specific hormone antibodies in primary tubules or their buds

Images contributed by Dr. Grigory Demyashkin, I. M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Russia):

6 - 8 week embryo:

Upper left: small intestine;
bottom left: esophagus;
center: stomach; top right:
pancreas; right: liver

Electron microscopy images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

38 / 39 week old fetus