The liver is a complex organ with a number of different parts and structures.
Main components of the Liver
- Lobes: The liver is divided into two main lobes, the right and the left, which are separated by a ligament called the falciform ligament.
- Hepatic lobules: The lobes of the liver are further divided into smaller units called hepatic lobules, which are the functional units of the liver.
- Hepatic portal vein: The hepatic portal vein brings blood from the stomach, intestines, and spleen to the liver for processing.
- Hepatic artery: The hepatic artery carries oxygen-rich blood to the liver.
- Bile ducts: The liver produces bile, which is transported out of the liver via bile ducts. The bile ducts join to form the common hepatic duct, which then joins with the cystic duct from the gallbladder to form the common bile duct.
- Gallbladder: The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located on the undersurface of the liver that stores and concentrates bile.
- Hepatic vein: The hepatic vein carries blood away from the liver and into the inferior vena cava.
- Glisson capsule: The liver is covered by a thin connective tissue layer called Glisson capsule that encases the liver and provides some protection to the organ.
- The liver also has a complex network of blood vessels that bring in oxygen and nutrients, and carry away waste products and network of lymphatic vessels that drain the liver and help to remove excess fluid and waste products.
It’s important to know these hepatic structures to know how to properly render a detailed liver in our Medical Illustrations.
What does your liver do?
The liver is a vital organ that plays a number of important roles in the body. It detoxifies harmful substances, metabolizes drugs and alcohol, and produces bile, which helps to digest fats. The liver also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and produce proteins that are important for blood clotting and other functions. Additionally, the liver stores vitamins, minerals, and iron and helps to remove excess bilirubin, a waste product that can cause jaundice if not properly processed.
What organs are connected to the liver?
The liver is connected to several other organs in the body. The main organs that are connected to the liver are the:
- Gallbladder: The liver produces bile which is stored in the gallbladder until it is needed for digestion.
- Pancreas: The pancreas and liver work together to regulate blood sugar levels and produce enzymes that help with digestion.
- Small intestine: Bile produced by the liver is sent to the small intestine to help with the digestion of fats.
- Stomach: The stomach and liver work together to produce enzymes and hormones that aid in digestion.
- Spleen: The spleen and liver work together to filter and process blood.
- The Vena cava and the portal vein are the major blood vessels that bring blood to the liver and take away the processed blood.
- The right and left hepatic ducts are the main ducts that carries bile from the liver to the gallbladder and then to the small intestine.
Where in the body is the liver located?
The liver is located in the upper right portion of the abdominal cavity, just below the diaphragm and above the stomach. It sits behind the lower ribs on the right side of the body and extends across the midline to the left side. It is partly protected by the rib cage and it is the largest solid organ in the body. It is also one of the most important organs in the body and performs many vital functions, including detoxifying harmful substances, producing bile, and helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Want to learn more about normal liver anatomy, check out this research article.