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Hermit of the Abdomen – Dedication to The Pancreas

The Hermit of the Abdomen – History of the Anatomy of the Pancreas 

O’ Dear Pancreas

You have been called the hermit of the abdomen
By whom I do not know
But in your dark and hidden way, you have
Spoken without a word
From the gurgling depths of the abdomen
Yes – you have earned this lonely title
and a coin should be tossed
to the person who coined the phrase
But it took a long time to understand who this hermit was – and what he was doing in the darkness of the abdomen


Can You see the Zebra-like  Pancreas in the Dark of the Abdomen?

From the day of antiquity
You have been looked upon by many
Herophilus, the father of anatomy had the first incisive insights into you
As he was one of the very few who had the guts to explore the guts in open fashion

Sanzio_01_Plato_Aristotle wikib

Aristotle (384 BC -322 BC)

(extracted from a painting by Raphael)

Aristotle at the same time seemed to have known something about you
but then you lay unharmed and unexplored for almost 500 years
Until Rufus mistook you for a piece of meat –
You must have laughed at the “pan kreas” thing
How wrong he was – you evasive little trickster

And then the Talmud – always seeming to be right
thought you were the finger of the liver –
little did they know how independent you were

While Vesalius was up to your “hide and seek” game

Vesalius_Portrait_pg_xii_-_c wikib

Vesalius (1514-1564)

the magical eyes of da Vinci missed you completely
even though he saw the serpiginous splenic artery snake right above you


The Serpiginous Splenic Artery Above the Pancreas

(da Vinci – 1452-1519)

The splenic artery which lies above the pancreas was described by da Vinci

but by the time the dissection took place the pancreas had autolysed and therefore was not seen by the genius da Vinci.

Your ducts seemed to have intrigued the next generation Wharton Wirsung and de Graaf
as you sustained the pain of the quill penetrating your inner gut
(I forget you were already dead but it must of hurt just watching!)
A little later it was that man called Vater and the little Italian Santorini who found your minor duct and your nipple
And so by this time we had a good understanding of you in your nakedness
but of course, as said – you were dead

And so young Bernard explored your factories, and got a sense of your canine workings,
But you were able to hold on to your sweet secret for just a little longer
until the Langerhans found the family jewels in the famous 2% of your population-
The islets – those beautiful eyelits – governess of all things sweet in the body


Islets of Langerhans

(Paul Langerhans 1847-1888)

Eberle, Bernard, Danilevsky, and Kuhne joined up across the world to expose your antacid and enigmatic enzymatic brew
And once again your wonderful workings for a better world were exposed –
and we knew then, that you were the quiet and effective type –
a hermit who did good
but did not want the limelight

To see you as you lived and breathed in the flesh
was the mission of Wilhelm the X-Ray man
who crusaded the path to visualise 40,000 Angstroms under the skin
And then there was a slew of heroes who learned to slew your sickened parts – including the famous Whipple who was able to Whipple you in an inimitable way

And then a bone guy – for God’s sakes – a bone guy! – called Banting and his student Best
exposed the insular chemistry of you insulin that had given you the power over the sweet
Never mind – in the end it was for the good of all –
And a new era was borne


Best and Banting

(Charles Best 1899- 1978  Frederick Banting 1894- 1941  )

And with the advent of ultrasound, CT, MRI, and endoscopy

You came out and were a hermit no more


Coming Out Party in the Abdomen for the Pancreas 

And so we try to understand your form as our scans explore you as you live and breathe
and we stare in awe at your odd shape – why oh why did you choose that shape?
What are you supposed to look like? – we have no clue
And we are happy – so happy for you that you are well nourished by a double blood supply


Blood Supply of the Pancreas

And we wonder why you have no skin – we thought all the organs had a skin
except for your tail – almost a foreskin
And you are off axis on two planes – what is that all about? – kinda crooked
And your twin origins and the intimacy with the duodenum, of the ventral twin
And the strange fusion of the Wirsung guy excluding the little Italian Santorini
It seems to me that your matrimonial fusion with Wirsung and the bile duct has led to more problems than the merger was worth
It does not seem in the long run, to have been a marriage made in heaven
What was that all about? Is there a grand plan to come

And so we try to understand your diseases
And in some way we understand that the guy glugging down the bottle
Could be punished by your reaction
But why Oh why are you so nasty to those whose misfortune it is to have stones roll down and get no satisfaction.. down the green vile bile route
Have you not learned to live with the green secretion by now
And did you not know that by reacting the way you do, that you are cutting off your nose to spite you head?

While type 2 seems remote from you
We don’t know about this Type 1 business
Why are you made to suffer so much at the hands of your own body on your own body
We feel sorry for you – to have your own buddies reject you – must be awful
And then to see so many young ones suffer because you don’t work
We once again see and understand what power you control from that deep dark hermit home of yours

And the cancer thing … so silently it creeps on you causing your collagen to counter
Only making things worse as it strangles nerve, blood vessel, and your spouse duct – the green one, – without regard

And then I think of you in your prime and in your happiness
When you are with your two buddies – the splenic vein and the renal vein
And you all look so much alike, and happy swimming in that deep ocean where you hide
And I wish this was forever


So Happy Swimming Your Buddies Splenic Vein and Renal Vein

by Ashley Davidoff MD – copyright 2015

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