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's reddish-brown, weighs about 1 1/2 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).
One of the liver's primary jobs is to filter the blood of toxins and other harmful substances, which are then excreted into bile or blood. Bile waste products enter the intestine and leave the body in the feces; the kidneys filter out other blood waste products, which leave the body in urine.
The liver carries out many other important functions, including:
Reviewed by: Elizabeth B. Rand, MD
Date: October 2012