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A historical perspective on the discovery of the accessory duct of the pancreas, the ampulla 'of Vater' and pancreas divisum.
  1. C D Stern


    The discovery of the accessory duct of the pancreas is usually ascribed to Giovanni Domenico Santorini (1681-1737), after whom this structure is named. The papilla duodeni (ampulla 'of Vater', or papilla 'of Santorini') is named after Abraham Vater (1684-1751) or after GD Santorini. Pancreas divisum, a persistence through non-fusion of the embryonic dorsal and ventral pancreas is a relatively common clinical condition, the discovery of which is usually ascribed to Joseph Hyrtl (1810-1894). In this review I report that pancreas divisum, the accessory duct and the papilla duodeni (ampulla 'of Vater') had all been observed and the observations published during the 17th century by at least seven anatomists before Santorini, Vater, and Hyrtl. I further suggest, in the light of frequent anatomical misattributions in common usage, that anatomical structures be referred to only by their proper anatomical names.

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