The Liver

What is the liver?

What is the liver?

This is where the liver is situated diagram
This is where the liver
is situated

The liver is a large reddish brown solid organ that sits in the upper part of the abdomen, tucked away under the right side of the rib cage. Above it is the heart and the right lung, and it is separated from them by a thin sheet of muscle called the diaphragm. Your liver is probably four to five times the size of your fist.
The liver has two halves or lobes, the right lobe and the left lobe, but the right lobe is larger than the left; roughly the right lobe is 60-65% of the liver. Blood flows into the liver through two large blood vessels that enter it from below – the hepatic artery which brings blood rich in oxygen, pumped out from the heart, and the portal vein which brings blood flowing out of the gut, rich in absorbed food material.

Blood flows out of the top of the liver through three large veins called the hepatic veins, into a big vein called the inferior vena cava or IVC that goes to the heart. Below the liver, where the hepatic artery and the portal vein come in, the bile duct comes out of the liver. Bile made in the liver flows out through this bile duct (which is a thin tube the size of a drinking straw), and goes down to the gut, where it mixes with food. The gall bladder is a small greenish pear-shaped bag that hangs off the bile duct. It stores bile and squeezes it out into the gut at mealtime.

What does the liver do?

The liver is like a big chemical laboratory, and it does lots of things. Among other things, it handles the nutrients that have been absorbed by the gut from food, removes toxins from the blood, makes proteins like albumin and clotting factors (these help in the clotting process), and secretes bile which helps digest fatty foods in particular.

The anatomy of the liver
© 2015