16.1.2 Digestive Glands

The digestive glands associated with the alimentary canal include the salivary glands, the liver and the pancreas. Saliva is mainly produced by three pairs of salivary glands, the parotids (cheek), the sub-maxillary/sub-mandibular (lower jaw) and the sublinguals (below the tongue).

These glands situated just outside the buccal cavity secrete salivary juice into the buccal cavity.

Liver is the largest gland of the body weighing about 1.2 to 1.5 kg in an adult human. It is situated in the abdominal cavity, just below the diaphragm and has two lobes.

The hepatic lobules are the structural and functional units of liver containing hepatic cells arranged in the form of cords. Each lobule is covered by a thin connective tissue sheath called the Glisson’s capsule.

The bile secreted by the hepatic cells passes through the hepatic ducts and is stored and concentrated in a thin muscular sac called the gall bladder. The duct of gall bladder (cystic duct) along with the hepatic duct from the liver forms the common bile duct.

The bile duct and the pancreatic duct open together into the duodenum as the common hepato-pancreatic duct which is guarded by a sphincter called the sphincter of Oddi.

The pancreas is a compound (both exocrine and endocrine) elongated organ situated between the limbs of the ‘U’ shaped duodenum.

The exocrine portion secretes an alkaline pancreatic juice containing enzymes and the endocrine portion secretes hormones, insulin and glucagon.

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