Unlike the heart and stomach, to which we always pay the most attention, the Liver is the most ignored vital organ of our body. A fast beating heart or a growling stomach we attend to immediately, but we acknowledge the Liver only when it is too late. For a change, while it is healthy, let’s know more about our Liver for a healthy life.

What is Liver?

Liver is one of the vital organs of our body. It is the second largest organ next to the skin and its weight ranges from 1.44 to 1.66 kgms. It is reddish-brown in colour and located in the upper-right abdomen inside the rib cage and below the diaphragm which is a thin muscle under the lung and heart.

What is the structure of Liver?

A Liver is divided into two main lobes; a larger right lobe and a smaller left lobe. Both the lobes are again divided into two more segments. The surface of the Liver is covered by a layer of connective tissue known as Glisson’s capsule. The Liver is connected to diaphragm with a band of tissue known as falciform ligament, which also divides the Liver into left and right lobes.

What are its sources of blood?

Liver gets its blood from two blood vessels; portal vein and hepatic artery. The portal vein supplies nearly 75 percent of the Liver’s blood from the digestive system. The hepatic artery carries the oxygen-rich blood from heart to Liver. The outflow of blood from Liver takes place through three hepatic veins which are located inside the Liver. These three veins join together to form the Inferior Vena Cava.

What are the functions of Liver?

Liver is a part of the digestive system and its major function is to filter the blood from the digestive track and send it across the body. It filters harmful substances from the blood. Substances can be from within the body such as hormones or from outside the body such as alcohol and drugs. Liver produces a fluid known as bile which is transferred to the small intestine through a tube known as bile duct and helps digestion of fats. The bile thus produced helps the body to absorb vitamin K and produces blood clotting factors. It regulates the amino acid (building blocks of protein) metabolism and converts the poisonous end product ammonia into urea which is then excreted in the urine. Liver stores glycogen which is broken down from the carbohydrates by the body. This glycogen is later broken down into glucose in Liver and then released into the blood in order to maintain blood sugar levels. Liver also secretes enzymes for the metabolism of protein. It is also the store house of Vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, iron and copper which it releases according to the needs.

How long can the Liver cells sustain?

Liver can still function even if it has lost more than 3/4th of the total cells. It also has a unique ability to regenerate its cells, which have been damaged. No other human organ can regenerate. The regeneration process goes on even for several months till the lost tissue is developed. The time period depends on the age and nutrition of the person.

What are the Liver disorders?

The major Liver disorders are as follows:
Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease: It is due to excessive alcohol consumption.
Chronic Liver Disease/ Cirrhosis: When the Liver tissues gradually degrade, it leads to cirrhosis.
Congenital Liver Defects: It is due to the defects that a child carries in his Liver because of which there is less bile secretion and affects the bile duct, the tube that supplies bile to the small intestine.
Hepatitis: It is caused due to the inflammation of Liver cells.
Liver Tumours: It is due to the tumours that grow on or inside the Liver.

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