Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Pancreas and spleen

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Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Pancreas and spleen



Abdominal quadrants, regions and planes

Anatomy of the anterolateral abdominal wall

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Blood supply of the foregut, midgut and hindgut

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Esophagus and stomach

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Small intestine

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Large intestine

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Pancreas and spleen

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Kidneys, ureters and suprarenal glands

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Innervation of the abdominal viscera

Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Liver, biliary ducts and gallbladder

Anatomy of the diaphragm

Anatomy of the inguinal region

Anatomy of the muscles and nerves of the posterior abdominal wall

Anatomy of the peritoneum and peritoneal cavity

Anatomy of the vessels of the posterior abdominal wall

Anatomy clinical correlates

Anatomy clinical correlates: Anterior and posterior abdominal wall

Anatomy clinical correlates: Viscera of the gastrointestinal tract

Anatomy clinical correlates: Peritoneum and diaphragm

Anatomy clinical correlates: Other abdominal organs

Anatomy clinical correlates: Inguinal region


Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Pancreas and Spleen

Figure 1: Inferior view of transverse section showing the ligaments of the spleen. 

Figure 2: Gross anatomy of the spleen. A. Visceral surface. B. Diaphragmatic surface. 

Figure 3: Anatomical relationships of the spleen and pancreas to surrounding organs with emphasis on their blood supply.  
Figure 4: Lymphatic drainage of the spleen and pancreas. 
Figure 5: A. Gross anatomy of the pancreas and the flow of pancreatic juices through the pancreatic ducts to the duodenum. B. Close-up showing the entry of the common bile duct and main pancreatic duct into the duodenum through the hepatopancreatic ampulla.
Figure 6: Venous drainage of the pancreas. 

Figure 7:  Schematic summarizing the innervation of the pancreas.
Figure 8:  Schematic showing the location of the transpyloric plane, which is typically at the level of the L1* vertebral body. 

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Viviana Popa, MD


Sam Gillespie, BSc

Evode Iradufasha, MD

Samantha McBundy, MFA, CMI

Kaia Chessen, MScBMC

Both the spleen and the pancreas are visceral organs in the foregut. Don’t get too excited though, that’s where their similarities end. Other characteristics such as the shape and function within the body are quite different. So let’s break them down!

Alright, let’s begin with the spleen, which has a few different important functions. Prenatally, it functions as a hematopoietic organ, which means it makes fetal blood cells. After birth, the spleen is like a hub for lymphocyte proliferation, as well as a recycling center for damaged red blood cells and platelets, and a blood reservoir, from which backup blood can be pumped into circulation after significant hemorrhage. For this reason, we can think of our spleen as our own personal blood bank.

The spleen is oval in shape and is an intraperitoneal organ. he spleen is an oval-shaped organ located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen, and it is intraperitoneal. This means that the spleen is entirely enveloped in visceral peritoneum, except at the splenic hilum where the vasculature enters and exits the organ.

The spleen has an anterior, superior and inferior border. The superior border of the spleen is easily recognizable due to its notched appearance. The outer surface of the spleen can also be divided into two parts; the diaphragmatic surface which is in contact with the concavity of the diaphragm, and the visceral surface that is in contact with the surrounding abdominal viscera.

Now, let’s break down the anatomical relationships of the spleen with its surrounding structures. The left portion of the diaphragm and the 9th to 11th ribs lie posterior to the spleen, with the diaphragm acting like a barrier between the spleen and the ribs. The stomach lies anterior to the spleen and the two connect at the greater curvature of the stomach via the gastrosplenic ligament. The spleen is lateral to the left kidney and the two are connected via the splenorenal ligament. The gastrosplenic and the splenorenal ligament contain splenic vessels within them and attach at the splenic hilum.


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