Biliary Atresia Clinical Care Program

About the Liver

The liver, the largest organ in the body, is located on the right side of the abdomen, underneath the ribs and diaphragm and on top of the stomach, right kidney and intestines. It is reddish-brown, weighs about 1½ to 2 pounds in a child (depending on age), and holds about 13 percent of the body's blood supply at any given moment. It receives oxygenated blood from the hepatic artery and nutrient-rich blood from the hepatic portal vein.

The liver has two main lobes, both of which are made up of thousands of lobules. These lobules are connected to small ducts, which 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 does the liver do?

One of the liver's primary functions is to filter the blood of toxins and other harmful substances, which are then excreted into bile or blood. Bile byproducts enter the intestine and leave the body in the feces; the kidneys filter out the blood byproducts, which leave the body in urine.

The liver carries out many other important jobs, including:

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