What is about 28 cm long, 16 cm wide, 8 cm thick and weighs about 1.5 kg? Our liver! (1)
The liver is the largest but also one of the most vascularized organs in the body. It contains more than 10% of the total blood volume with, for an adult, not less than one and a half liters of blood flowing through it on average every minute(1,2).The liver also has the remarkable property of being able to regenerate itself (3). This unique organ is located in the upper right part of the abdomen, below the diaphragm and above the stomach, the right kidney and the intestines (2).
An incredible anatomy
Ovoid in shape and brownish red in appearance, its important vascularization gives it this dark color. The liver has two distinct lobes, a large right lobe and a smaller left lobe. These lobes are made up of 8 segments composed of smaller lobes called lobules. These lobules are connected to channels that join together to form larger channels. They then merge to form the common liver duct. This channel sends the bile produced by the liver cells to the gallbladder and duodenum through the common bile duct (1,2).
Two blood vessels supply blood to the liver: the hepatic artery, which supplies the liver with oxygen-rich blood, and the portal vein, which supplies the liver with nutrient-rich blood (2).
A key role
The liver carries out more than 500 vital functions, among which we can mention three essential missions for our organism: detoxification, synthesis and storage (2,4).
Liver function tests: standard values
A blood test allows a complete liver check-up to be carried out. The main elements analysed in current practice and their normal values are summarised below (5).
High levels of these proteins and enzymes may indicate liver damage. Hence, elevated transaminases (ALT and AST) indicate a cytolysis process, corresponding to the destruction of liver cells in viral hepatitis (6). Moreover, Abnormal prolonged prothrombin time usually indicates liver failure (4).
In any case, interpretation by a physician is necessary and additional tests may be carried out in order to make an accurate and definitive diagnosis.
- AFEF. Anatomie de mon foie. Available on https://afef.asso.fr Consulted in April 2020.
- University of Rochester Medical Center. Health Encyclopedia. The Liver: Anatomy and Functions Available on https://www.urmc.rochester.edu Consulted in April 2020.
- Nagasue N et al. Human Liver Regeneration after Major Hepatic. Ann. Surg 1987;206(1):30-39.
- AFEF. Les fonctions de mon foie. Available on https://afef.asso.fr Consulted in April 2020.
- Limdi J K, Hyde G M. Evaluation of abnormal liver function tests. PostgradMed J 2003;79:307–312.
- University of Rochester Medical Center. Liver Panel. Available on https://www.urmc.rochester.edu Consulted in April 2020.