An annular pancreas is a ring of pancreatic tissue that encircles the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The normal position of the pancreas is next to, but not surrounding the duodenum.
Annular pancreas is problem present at birth (congenital defect). Symptoms occur when the ring of pancreas squeezes and narrows the small intestine so that food cannot pass easily or at all.
Newborns may have symptoms of complete blockage of the intestine. However, up to one half of people with this condition do not have symptoms until adulthood. There are also cases that are not detected because the symptoms are mild.
Conditions that may be associated with annular pancreas include:
Newborns may not feed well. They may spit up more than normal, not drink enough breast milk or formula, and cry.
Adult symptoms may include:
Treatment most often involves surgery to bypass the blocked part of the duodenum.
The outcome is most often good with surgery. Adults with an annular pancreas are at increased risk for pancreatic or biliary tract cancer.
Complications may include:
Call your health care provider if you or your child has any symptoms of annular pancreas.
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical 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.