About the Liver

The liver is located in the right upper portion of abdominal cavity, resting just below the diaphragm (a muscular layer separating the chest and abdomen), adjacent to the stomach, right kidney and intestines. Gall bladder is located below the liver.

The body is a reddish brown organ of conic shape, and a human liver weighs around 1-2 kilogram. The liver has two blood supply sources:

  1.  The oxygenated blood flows in through the hepatic artery
  2.  The blood rich in nutrition flows in through the portal vein

The liver has always approximately 500 ml (13%) of body bloodstream.

The liver consists of two main lobes, right and left lobes comprised of thousands of lobules. These lobules are connected to small canals and small canals are connected to larger ones to form the main hepatic canal. The hepatic canal carries the bile juice produced by the liver cells to the gall bladder and duodenum (the first section of small intestine)

Vital Functions of the Liver:

The liver regulates many chemical substances in the blood and excretes a product called “bile juice” which helps transport of waste materials from the liver.  Entire blood from the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down the nutrients and drugs to be easily used by rest of the body.

1. Excretion of bile juice for lipid digestion
2. Excretion of drugs, chemical substances and alcohol from the blood
3. Storage of excessive glucose in the form of glycogen
4. Excretion of wastes in the bile juice
5. Synthesis of proteins and cholesterol
6. Blood-clotting
7. Immunity to infections

The liver is the most complex and metabolically active organ in the body. It has more than five hundreds vital functions.

Some of its major functions include the followings:

  • It provides immunity to infections. An infection is more likely to occur when the liver is damaged.
  • It is a factory in which specific forms of lipid are produced, which is called lipoprotein through which many important proteins in the body as well as cholesterol and all body lipids are carried.
  • Clears the blood from many chemical substances, drugs, and alcohol.
  • Secretes bile to the intestines. The bile is very important to digest the lipids and functions to excrete body wastes.
  • Regulates blood-clotting by producing major proteins.
  • Stores excessive glucose in the form of glycogen to be used in fasting

What makes the Liver unique?

Reserve

Even though 70% of the liver is removed, the liver will function normally (on condition that the remaining 30% is healthy). Thus, in those with liver cancer a large portion of cancerous liver can be removed without damaging or impairing functions of the liver. Likewise, more than half of the liver can be removed from a donor for transplantation without impairment of liver functions or causing another serious damage.

Regeneration

The liver is the only organ in the body that is able to regenerate itself even after a large portion is removed. Small remaining pieces of the liver are able to get a normal size within few weeks. Thus, a large portion of the liver can be safely removed from a living donor and persons with hepatic tumor. This explains that the half of the liver is successfully transplanted to the patients with liver failure because the liver rapidly grows and reaches its normal size.
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The information on this website is not intended to replace any medical advice given by physicians with access to your detailed medical history.