Human Liver Anatomy - What is Liver and Where is it Located?

What is Liver Definition?

Do you know the secrets about the human liver anatomy? Let’s learn it here. Skin is the largest organ. Whereas, liver is the largest internal organ and the largest gland in the human body. You may wonder "What is liver?" and what a purpose it serves. Precisely, it is one of the most fantastic organs of your body.

Being a glandular structure, it is a group of cells or tissues that secrete or excrete certain substances. However, these secretions have to do their job elsewhere in the body. The largest gland, liver also enjoys the distinction of being the hottest organ in your body.

Human Liver

What Does the Liver Do?

The answer to “What does the liver do?” contains some interesting information. The human liver is, actually, a gland. There is broad classification of glands into two major groups i.e. endocrine and exocrine glands. Interestingly, liver belongs to both of these categories.

That is, it serves as both an endocrine gland as well as an exocrine gland. A normal liver weighs about 1.2 to 1.5 kg and performs both endocrine and exocrine functions. Studying the human liver anatomy, you will also come to know about its size.

Keep on reading this article about the human liver anatomy. Here, you will get useful and interesting information about the liver size, location, function, diseases and risk factors for liver disease.

The Human Liver Size:

Liver SizeThe human liver size varies across gender. That is, it is bigger in size in male as compared with the one in females. The size of this gland is around 10.5 centimeters for men and about 7 centimeters for women. In the similar way, the weight of this organ is also different in different genders.

The Human Liver Anatomy:

Understanding the human liver anatomy helps you understand its functions. When you view liver from the above side, it seems to contain two lobes. On the other hand, viewing it from underside, reveals that there are four lobes of the liver. Anyhow, the left lobe is smaller while the right lobe is larger.

Going deeper into the human liver anatomy, you will find that the transverse fissure of the liver divides its left lobe into four lobes. Turning to its surface, a thin double-layered membrane makes a covering around it. You call this covering the peritoneum. It is this peritoneum which minimizes friction of the liver against other organs.

Liver Location

Location Of Liver

The largest internal organ, liver appears in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. It lies just beneath the right side of the diaphragm and under the right lower rib cage. Concerning human liver anatomy, there are eight functional segments in it.

Within a minute, approximately 1500 ml of blood flows through the liver. This is so to ensure its efficient working. Partly due to its ample blood supply, liver is the prime site for metastatic spread of cancer.

Main Function of Liver

This glandular structure, in the abdomen, has potential to perform a number of functions. All these functions are of special importance for the body. One of its primary jobs is to purify the body from different harmful substances, for example, toxins.

On the other hand, as a gland, it secretes chemicals in the form of bile. Bile contains salts that neutralize the acidic food coming from stomach. Meanwhile, the bile juice also helps in the digestion of fats. In the presence of bile salts, the fatty substances break down into smaller, simpler pieces.

Afterwards, these small particles move into the blood across the wall of small intestine. Some other important liver functions are listed below:

  • Conversion of Ammonia to Urea: It converts a more harmful substance ammonia to less harmful compound urea.
  • Destruction of Old RBCs: The body should get rid of the old red blood cells that are of no use anymore. Liver performs the job of destroying the old RBCs. After that, it becomes easy for the body to remove them.
  • Storage of Sugar: While studying human liver anatomy, you’ll find that it contains glycogen, which is a non-functional form of sugar. So, it is an important function of this organ to convert sugar in its non-functional form and store it.
  • Restoration of Glucose Level: When there is a decline in the blood glucose level, the stored sugar is converted into functional sugar.
  • Storage of Vitamins and Iron: The human liver also acts as a storehouse for some vitamins and iron.

Regenerative Capacity of Liver

The study of human liver anatomy also lets you know about the regenerative capacity of this organ. The majority of cells in the liver are hepatocytes. While, the remaining cell types are Kupffer cells, stellate cells, endothelial cells and bile ductular cells.

This vital organ is helpful to almost every other organ in the body in one or the other way. When there is the loss of functional cells or hepatocytes, the growth factors and cytokines, etc. induce proliferation of the remaining liver cells.

This is the very reason that when you surgically remove some part of the liver or it suffers from some damage due to any other injury, the remaining hepatocytes can trigger regeneration. Thus, you can expect the complete recovery from the injury.

Signs of Liver Disease

Jaundice is the hallmark sign of liver disease. At the same time, it may be the most reliable marker of the severity of the disease. Typical symptoms of liver disease include:

  • Icterus (jaundice)
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Discomfort or pain in the right upper abdomen
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Abdominal distention

Many patients may not have the above symptoms. But, the biochemical liver tests will help to confirm the disease.

Liver Disease

Risk Factors for Liver Disease

You have come to know about the human live anatomy and the variety of great jobs that the organ performs. By now, you must have realized how important it is to keep this organ hale and hearty. If anything happens to it, there would be disturbance in a number of vital functions.

So, it would be wise to take special care of liver while it is in normal working condition. And you can do it by eliminating the risk factors for liver disease. Here follows a brief description about some of the common risk factors.

Alcohol Consumption:

Alcohol is the leading cause of liver disease in many parts of the world. Next comes the turn of hepatitis C and B virus infection. More than two drinks per day in women and more than three drinks per day in men can increase the risk of alcoholic liver disease.

Recreational Drug Use:

Everything that the nature has created has some benefits. But, its excessive use can prove to be problematic. Smoking, recreational use of marijuana and snorting cocaine are potential risk factors for liver disease.


The levels of lipids and lipoproteins in the blood may get abnormally high. This is the condition of hyperlipidemia. Such a condition increases the possibility for liver to suffer from a disease.

Genetic Diseases:

There are individuals who have a family history of cirrhosis, Wilson's disease, hemochromatosis, diabetes or endocrine failure. This may also serve as risk factors for the liver disease.

Viral Hepatitis:

Intimate or occupational contact with individuals with viral hepatitis can be the cause of hepatic disorders.

Exposure to Affected Blood:

Accidental exposure to blood of a victim will make you susceptible to the same condition.

Recent Surgery:

Sometimes, after surgical operations, the process of healing may go bad. In turn, this will affect the functioning of liver. So, after recent surgery, you should take special care of this organ.

Transfusion with Blood:

Blood transfusion is the process of putting new blood into the body of an individual. The reason for getting blood transfusion is that the recipient’s body is unable to synthesize sufficient quality or quantity of the blood. On the other hand, such an act is likely to increase the risk of liver disease.

Sexual Contact:

Sometimes, a healthy person makes sexual contact with patients of viral hepatitis. Consequently, they are very likely to get affected by the same abnormality.

Summing up, if you want to enjoy the perfect health, take special care of the liver. It has a lot of jobs to perform in your body. Any liver disease would render it unable to accomplish the essential tasks. As a result, there would be disturbance in many of your body’s mechanisms. You need to control the risk factors for liver disease. In this way, there will be less chances of the liver disease.

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