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Lever / Liver

Anatomie van de lever

Anatomy of the liver

The liver is the largest gland in the human body (approximately 1,5 kg). It is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, directly below the diaphragm and protected by the lowest ribs.

The liver is important as storage place of nutrients, for production of coagulation factors that are needed for haemostasis and the production of bile for the digestion of fatty products. Furthermore, the liver plays a role in detoxifying toxic substances like drugs. The liver needs only 30% of its total volume in order to function properly after an operation.

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Anatomy and the liver function

De lever in segmenten

The liver segments

The liver is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, directly below the diaphragm and weights about 1,5 kg. According to the classic anatomy, the liver is divided in a right and left liver lobe. Furthermore, the liver can be divided in eight so-called liver segments.

This segmental division of the liver is based on the separated blood supply for each liver segment (see Surgery). The liver artery (30%) and the portal vein (70%) deliver blood to the liver. The liver artery delivers oxygenated blood to the liver. The portal vein blood reaches the liver after passing through the bowel, is rich in nutrients and has a low oxygen level.

The liver has several functions. An essential function of the liver is the production of bile, which ensures the absorption of fat from the bowel. The produced bile travels through the bile ducts in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. The liver produces also important proteins that are essential for the human body. For example cholesterol, protein parts of haemoglobin (which transfers the oxygen in the blood), proteins that are needed for blood coagulation and antibodies. Furthermore, liver serves as a storage place for glycogen, an important fuel for many processes in the human body.