The liver is the largest of the body's organs.
It lies in the upper right side of the abdomen; with most
of it protected by the ribs It weighs about 3 pounds (1.5
kilogram's), making it the largest organ in the body. It pulses
continuously as 1 1/2 liters (2 1/2 pints) of blood pass through
it every minute. There are reservoirs of blood in the liver
called venous sinuses, which can hold up to 3 1/2 liters (6
pints) for boosting blood volume in emergencies.
The liver is a 24-hour chemical plant responsible
for the production, storage, metabolism and distribution of
a multitude of nutrients essential to a healthy body. It takes
in waste products, converts some of them into useable elements
and excretes those which are harmful. At the same time the
liver produces Vitamin A and stores Vitamins A, D and B12.
A chemical company would require a plant covering several
acres to perform its simpler tasks. The more complicated ones
it could not do at all.
The function of the liver
The liver has a number of functions, including:
- The production of essential substances such as glucose
and proteins for the rest of the body
- The production of important factors to help clot the blood
the removal of toxic substances from the blood the breakdown
of fats and other substances.
of liver dysfunction
If the liver is not working properly, this may
not be apparent at first. The liver is a very uncomplaining
organ However, signs of poor liver function include:
- Muscle and Joint Pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin) if pigments are not properly
cleared from the blood.
- Swelling of the ankles or abdomen of insufficient proteins
are being made.
- Prolonged bleeding if insufficient clotting factors are
At the moment there are no `liver machines' like artificial
kidneys. If the liver fails completely or becomes very seriously
damaged the only solution is a liver transplant. However, research
teams are working to develop a first artificial liver.