Signs and Symptoms
The pancreas, located below your liver and under your stomach, is about seven inches long and weighs about 3.5 ounces. It has two main functions.
The first is to help digest food by making and releasing enzymes in the upper portion of the small intestine. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are broken down into small parts that the body uses as nourishment. The pancreas also produces large amounts of sodium bicarbonate, which makes the contents of the stomach less caustic or acidic as they flow through the small intestine. Sodium bicarbonate helps keep fluids in the body and prevent dehydration.
The second function is to make insulin, a hormone necessary for the body to use carbohydrates properly. If you don't produce insulin, you have a disease called diabetes.
A pancreas transplant can help manage organ damage that may result from insulin-dependent diabetes. It could eliminate the need for insulin injections, reduce or eliminate dietary and activity restrictions due to diabetes, and decrease or eliminate the risk of severe low blood sugar.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.