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How the Liver Works

Anatomy of the liver:

The liver is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, beneath the diaphragm and on top of the stomach, right kidney, and intestines. The liver, a dark reddish-brown organ that weighs about 3 pounds, has multiple functions.

Illustration of the anatomy of the digestive system, adult
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There are two distinct sources that supply blood to the liver:

The liver holds about 13 percent of the body's blood supply at any given moment.

The liver consists of two main lobes, both of which are made up of thousands of lobules. These lobules are connected to small ducts that connect with larger ducts to ultimately form the hepatic duct. The hepatic duct transports bile produced by the liver cells to the gallbladder and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).

What are the functions of the liver?

The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile, which helps to break down fats, preparing them for further digestion and absorption. All of the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down the nutrients and drugs in the blood into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body. More than 500 vital functions have been identified with the liver. Some of the more well-known functions include the following:

When the liver has broken down harmful substances, they are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and ultimately leave the body in the feces. Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys and leave the body in the form of urine.

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Online Resources of Digestive & Liver Disorders


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