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Ampulla of Vater

Once food is mixed with acid in your stomach, the food-acid mixture slowly enters the first portion of your small intestine, or duodenum. It is in the duodenum that the bile from the liver and the enzymes from the pancreas enter the intestinal tract to help digest the food. They enter the small intestine from a small valve in the wall of the duodenum called the Ampulla of Vater. Other names include the duodenal papilla, or the papilla of Vater. The ampulla of Vater is the duodenal end of the drainage systems of the pancreatic and common bile ducts. In cases where the doctor suspects disease of the bile ducts or pancreas, an ERCP procedure is sometimes performed. During ERCP, a thin catheter can be threaded up into the ampulla during a scope test so that x-rays of the bile and pancreas ducts can be taken.

This short video illustrates the view your doctor has during a gastroscopy examination. Here you can see the the inside of the duodenum. Notice the small nipple-like ampulla in the upper left corner of the screen. This patient is fasting for this exam. If he had eaten you would see food in the duodenum and bile and enzymes squirting out of the ampulla to mix with the food and begin the process of digestion.

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Three Rivers Endoscopy Scope Cam

Ampulla of Vater


Text & Images Courtesy of Three Rivers Endoscopy Center
© Dr. Robert Fusco, Three Rivers Endoscopy Center, All Rights Reserved

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