The liver is a vital organ located in right upper side of our belly (abdomen) just beneath the right ribcage. In fact a few lower ribs cover our liver on the right side.
It is shaped like a cone and some even call its shape as a fancy hat. It weighs anyway between 1kg to 1.5 kg depending on the stature of an individual. It has two lobes, namely right and left. The basic liver cell is called hepatocyte.
The liver is the only organ in the body to have double blood supply:
The portal blood is very important and is extremely important in filtration and assimilation. In patients with cirrhosis the pressure in portal system increases to cause portal hypertension.
Hepatic veins drain the blood away from the liver. There are 3 major liver veins. A blockage in the flow of these veins can lead to sudden deterioration of liver function leading to liver failure requiring admission to hospital and urgent intervention.
Liver performs hundreds of important functions in our body. Some of them are:
Common Bile Duct : The channel which carries bile from liver to our intestine is called Common Bile Duct or CBD. It is connected to Gall bladder via a small side channel called cystic duct. Small stones sometimes slip from gall bladder via this duct into CBD and cause severe pain, fever and jaundice. This condition is called as Cholangitis. In some situations these stones cause swelling of pancreas leading to a condition called pancreatitis. Both the above conditions need urgent attention.
Gall Bladder: It is a small pouch attached to the liver. Gall bladder stores 50-80 ml of bile at a time. When we eat a fatty meal the Gall bladder contracts to squeeze stored bile into intestines to help in digestion. It stores and concentrates bile. Some individuals develop stones in there gall bladder and the condition is referred as cholelithiasis. Symptomatic gall bladder stones need to be treated by surgical removal of gall bladder as a whole and not just the stones.
Liver is the only organ in human body which has a unique capacity to regrow or regenerate. This means that a portion of liver ( 60-70%) can be safely removed to treat a medical condition (like cancer) or from a healthy donor. Since liver has incredible capacity of healing it helps it regrow back to support the need of the body.
Liver has many important functions in human body. Life is not possible with out a liver. We can keep our liver healthy by:
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