Liver

The largest abdominal organ. The liver carries out many important functions, such as making important blood proteins and bile, changing food into energy, and cleaning alcohol and poisons from the blood.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

How Does the Liver Work?

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It has many important metabolic functions. It converts the nutrients in our diets into substances that the body can use, stores these substances, and supplies cells with them when needed. It also takes up toxic substances and converts them into harmless substances or makes sure they are released from the body.

The human adult liver weighs about 1.4 kg (3.1 pounds) and is found in the right upper abdomen, below the diaphragm. It takes up most of the space under the ribs and some space in the left upper abdomen, too. Viewed from the outside, a larger right lobe and smaller left lobe can be distinguished. The two lobes are separated by a band of connective tissue that anchors the liver to the abdominal cavity. The gallbladder, where bile is stored, is found in a small hollow on the underside of the liver.

Liver tissue is made up of lots of... Read more about the Liver

Terms to know

Bile Ducts
Tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage and to the small intestine for use in digestion.
Colon (Bowel)
The longest part of the large intestine, which is a tube-like organ connected to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The colon removes water and some nutrients and electrolytes from partially digested food. The remaining material, solid waste called stool, moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus.
Gallbladder
The organ that stores the bile made in the liver and that is connected to the liver by bile ducts. The gallbladder can store about 2 tablespoons of bile. Eating signals the gallbladder to empty the bile through the bile ducts to help the body digest fats.
Lobe
A portion of an organ, such as the liver, lung, breast, thyroid, or brain.
Pancreas
An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.
Small Intestine
The organ where most digestion occurs. It measures about 20 feet and includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
Spleen
An organ that is part of the lymphatic system. The spleen makes lymphocytes, filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells. It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.
Stomach
An organ that is part of the digestive system. The stomach helps digest food by mixing it with digestive juices and churning it into a thin liquid.

Terms to know

Bile Ducts
Tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage and to the small intestine for use in dig...
Colon (Bowel)
The longest part of the large intestine, which is a tube-like organ connected to the small intestine at one e...
Gallbladder
The organ that stores the bile made in the liver and that is connected to the liver by bile ducts. The gallbl...
See all 8

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