The pancreas is located in the upper part of the abdomen, behind the stomach. It contains cells that secrete the hormone insulin, and cells that secrete digestive enzymes that aid in the breakdown of food in the gastrointestinal tract. The pancreas secretes these enzymes into the pancreatic duct, which joins the common bile duct from the liver and drains into the small intestine.
Review Date 10/26/2021
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.