Ectopic pancreatic tissue

Last revised by Lilit Ganjalyan on 13 Jan 2023

Ectopic pancreatic tissue, also known as heterotopic pancreatic tissue, refers to the presence of pancreatic tissue in the submucosal, muscularis or subserosal layers of the luminal gastrointestinal tract outside the normal confines of the pancreas and lacking any anatomic or vascular connection with the pancreas proper.

It is reportedly relatively common, affecting ~5% (range 1-10%) 1 of people. 

Most commonly an asymptomatic entity.

Recognized locations for ectopic pancreatic tissue include: 

If the ectopic pancreatic tissue is functional, it is subject to the same variation of pathology that affects the normal gland, including, but not limited to pancreatitis and pancreatic tumors.

On upper gastrointestinal examination, an ectopic pancreas appears as an extramucosal, smooth, broad-based lesion either along the greater curvature of the gastric antrum or in the proximal duodenum.

In 45% of the cases of ectopic pancreas discovered on upper gastrointestinal fluoroscopic examination, the ectopic pancreatic tissue contained a central small collection of barium, i.e. a central niche or umbilication, indicative of the rudimentary duct’s draining orifice 2​. It is this finding that is diagnostic of ectopic pancreatic tissue.

Contrast enhanced CT may show a homogeneously enhancing tissue (similar to normal pancreas) or cystic area (acinar component or pseudocyst).

Laparoscopic wedge resection is usually successful in removing the ectopic tissue, although its success is dependent on the location.

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Cases and figures

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