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Patient care — general information

Liver: The liver is the largest glandular organ of the body; weighing about 3 lb (1.36 kg). It is reddish brown in color and is divided into four lobes of unequal size and shape. The liver lies on the right side of the abdominal cavity beneath the diaphragm. Blood is carried to the liver via two large vessels called the hepatic artery and the portal vein. The heptic artery carries oxygen-rich blood from the aorta (a major vessel in the heart). The portal vein carries blood containing digested food from the small intestine. These blood vessels subdivide in the liver repeatedly, terminating in very small capillaries. Each capillary leads to a lobule. Liver tissue is composed of thousands of lobules, and each lobule is made up of hepatic cells, the basic metabolic cells of the liver.



The liver has many functions. Some of the functions are: to produce substances that break down fats, convert glucose to glycogen, produce urea (the main substance of urine), make certain amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), filter harmful substances from the blood (such as alcohol), storage of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, D, K and B12) and maintain a proper level or glucose in the blood. The liver is also responsible fore producing cholesterol. It produces about 80% of the cholesterol in your body.

Anatomical landmarks

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