What is the liver and why is it so important ?

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It is located on the right side of the abdomen (to the right of the stomach), behind the lower ribs and below the lungs.

The liver is divided into two sections called lobes. In a healthy adult the liver is about the size of a football,weighing about 2.5 to 3 pounds. This organ receives its blood supply from two sources: the portal vein and the hepatic artery. The portal vein brings blood carrying

nutrients to the liver from the intestine, and the hepatic artery brings blood and oxygen to the liver from the heart and lungs. The hepatic veins return blood to the heart (Figure 4). The liver performs more than 400 functions each day to keep the body healthy. Some of its major jobs are described here:

• Production of bile that permits the body to use protein,fat, and carbohydrates

• Use and storage of fats, sugars, iron, and vitamins

• Production of blood-clotting substances such as prothrombin

• Detoxification of drugs, alcohol, and other potentially harmful substances

• Production of a protein called albumin, which helps keep the body fluid within the blood vessels

• Monitoring for the presence of bacteria in the blood