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Ampulla of Vater
Biliary system new.svg
A diagram of the Biliary system. Note that the ampulla of Vater is behind the Major duodenal papilla.
Ampulla endo.jpg
The Major duodenal papilla, seen on duodenoscopy at the time of ERCP. This is the protrusion of the ampulla of Vater into the duodenum.
Latin Ampulla hepatopancreatica, ampulla Vaterii
Gray's subject #250 1199
MeSH Ampulla+of+Vater

The ampulla of Vater, also known as the hepatopancreatic ampulla, is formed by the union of the pancreatic duct and the common bile duct. The ampulla is specifically located at the major duodenal papilla.

The Ampulla of Vater is an important landmark, halfway along the second part of the duodenum, that marks the anatomical transition from foregut to midgut (and hence the point where the celiac trunk stops supplying the gut and the superior mesenteric artery takes over).



Various smooth muscle sphincters regulate the flow of bile and pancreatic juice through the ampulla: the sphincter of the pancreatic duct, the sphincter of the bile duct, and the hepatopancreatic sphincter (Sphincter of Oddi).

The Sphincter of Oddi controls the introduction of bile and pancreatic secretions into the duodenum, as well as preventing the entry of duodenal contents into the Ampulla.

Related disorders

  • Pancreatitis can result from a failure of pancreatic secretions to drain properly. One possible cause of impaired drainage of pancreatic juice is blockage of the hepatopancreatic ampulla. A common culprit to cause blockage is a gallstone in the common bile duct.


The eponymical term "ampulla of Vater" is named after Abraham Vater (1684-1751), a German anatomist who first published a description of it in 1720.[1]

Additional images


  1. ^ synd/3095 at Who Named It?
  • "Ampulla, hepatopancreatic." Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 27th ed. (2000). ISBN 0-683-40007-X
  • Moore, Keith L. and Arthur F. Dalley. Clinically Oriented Anatomy, 4th ed. (1999). ISBN 0-683-06141-0


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