The liver is the largest solid organ in the body, the largest being the skin. It is also the heaviest gland in the body. Weighing about 1.5kg and measuring roughly 18 cm across and 15 cm deep. It is situated in the upper abdominal cavity, slightly inferior to the diaphragm and anterior to the stomach.
The liver is an essential organ and you would die within 24 hours if it stopped working. With an estimated 500 functions it is a complex, multipurpose organ with a biosynthetic chemical function including:
- bile synthesis.
- excretion of bilirubin.
- making plasma proteins.
- storage of vitamins and glucose.
- lipid, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
Behind the liver lies the gallbladder, which stores the bile synthesized by the liver.
The liver is remarkably resilient and the human body can lose up to two thirds without any significant effects. Following the loss of part of the liver volume the remaining liver will enlarge. A discovery that made modern liver surgery and transplantation a reality.
Figure: The liver in the abdominal cavity
Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Liver.png. This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions.
Banner image courtesy of Flickr under creative commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maistora/2198169539/sizes/l/