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Medicine LibreTexts

22.7B: Anatomy of the Liver

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    8045
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    The liver is located in the abdomen and has four lobes.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Detail the anatomy of the liver

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • A human liver normally weighs 1.44–1.66 kg (3.2–3.7 lb), and is a soft, pinkish-brown, triangular organ.
    • The liver is both the largest internal organ (the skin being the largest organ overall) and the largest gland in the human body.
    • The liver is connected to two large blood vessels: the hepatic artery and the portal vein.
    • Traditionally, the liver is divided into four lobes: left, right, caudate, and quadrate. The lobes are further divided into lobules, the functional units of the liver.
    • Each lobule is made up of millions of hepatic cells that are the basic metabolic cells of the liver.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • lobule: A subdivision of the four main liver lobes, the basic functional unit of the liver.

    The Liver

    The human liver is both the largest internal organ (the skin being the largest organ overall) and the largest gland in the human body. It is a soft, pinkish-brown, triangular organ normally weighing 1.44–1.66 kg (3.2–3.7 lb).

    The liver has a wide range of functions including detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of the biochemicals necessary for digestion. It is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdominal cavity, resting just below the diaphragm. The liver lies to the right of the stomach and overlies the gall bladder.

    This is a drawing that shows the spatial relationship between the liver, stomach, gall bladder, and pancreas. The liver lies above and to the right of the stomach and overlies the gall bladder. The pancreas is under the gall bladder.

     

    The position of the liver: The spatial relationship between the liver, stomach, gall bladder, and pancreas. The liver is seen above the stomach, gall bladder, and pancreas.

    The liver is connected to two large blood vessels, the hepatic artery and the portal vein. The hepatic artery carries blood from the aorta to the liver, whereas the portal vein carries blood containing the digested nutrients from the entire gastrointestinal tract, and also from the spleen and pancreas to the liver. These blood vessels subdivide into capillaries that then lead to a lobule.

    Lobes of the Liver

    Traditionally, the liver is divided into four lobes: left, right, caudate, and quadrate. The lobes are further divided into lobules, the functional units of the liver. Each lobule is made up of millions of hepatic cells that are the basic metabolic cells of the liver.