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The liver is the largest organ in the body. It’s surrounded by a fibrous capsule and is divided into two lobes: a large right lobe and a smaller left lobe.
It’s in the upper part of the abdomen on the right-hand side of the body. It’s protected from injury by the lower ribs.
The liver and surrounding organs
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The liver is a very important organ that has many functions. These include regulating sugars and fats in the body so they can be used for energy. It also produces proteins that circulate in the blood. Some of these proteins help the blood to clot and prevent excessive bleeding, while others are essential for maintaining the balance of fluid in the body.
The liver also destroys harmful substances, such as alcohol and drugs, and gets rid of waste products. It does this by breaking down substances that aren’t used by the body so they can be passed out in urine or stools (bowel motions).
The liver is connected to the first part of the small intestine by a tube called the bile duct. This duct takes bile produced by the liver to the intestine. Bile breaks down the fats in food so they can be absorbed by the bowel (intestine).
A healthy liver is very good at repairing itself. It can function normally with only a small part of it in working order.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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