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Human Liver

What is the Liver?

The liver is the largest glandular organ of the body. It weighs about 3 lb (1.36 kg). It is reddish brown in color and is divided into four lobes of unequal size and shape. The liver lies on the right side of the abdominal cavity beneath the diaphragm. Blood is carried to the liver via two large vessels called the hepatic artery and the portal vein. The heptic artery carries oxygen-rich blood from the aorta (a major vessel in the heart).

The portal vein carries blood containing digested food from the small intestine. These blood vessels subdivide in the liver repeatedly, terminating in very small capillaries. Each capillary leads to a lobule. Liver tissue is composed of thousands of lobules, and each lobule is made up of hepatic cells, the basic metabolic cells of the liver.

Major function of the liver?

The liver has many functions. Some of the functions are:

  • to produce substances that break down fats, convert glucose to glycogen
  • produce urea (the main substance of urine)
  • make certain amino acids (the building blocks of proteins)
  • detoxifies harmful substances from the blood (such as alcohol, drugs, and toxins)
  • produce bile
  • storage of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, D, K and B12)
  • destroys old blood cells
  • maintain a proper level or glucose in the blood.

The liver is also responsible for producing cholesterol. It produces about 80% of the cholesterol in your body.

Diseases of the Liver

Several diseases states can affect the liver. Some of the diseases are jaundice, Wilson's Disease, hepatitis (an inflammation of the liver), liver cancer, and cirrhosis (a chronic inflammation that progresses ultimately to organ failure). Alcohol alters the metabolism of the liver, which can have overall detrimental effects if alcohol is taken over long periods of time. **Many babies are born with jaundice.

Hemochromatosis can cause liver problems.

When the liver does not preform properly, liver dialysis might be an option. Liver dialysis is a process in which a machine performs the detoxification function of the liver.

Liver dialysis is still a relatively new treatment, and it cannot support a person longer than a few years.

Medications that negatively effect the liver

Medications have side effects that may harm your liver. Some of the medications that can damage your liver are: serzone, anti-cancer drugs (tagfur, MTX, and cytoxan), and medications used to treat diabetes.

Serzone is a prescription drug manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb for the treatment of depression.

The possible side effects of Serzone® are: agitation, dizziness, clumsiness or unsteadiness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, confusion, severe nausea, gastroenteritis, abdominal pain, unusually dark urine, difficult or frequent urination, fainting, skin rash or hives yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice) or a prolonged loss of weight or loss of appetite.

If you or a family member have suffered serious side effects or a fatal injury after taking Serzone®, you or the family member may be eligible to file a claim against the manufacturer. You should contact an attorney that specializes in class action lawsuits immediately.

To help prevent liver damage, let your doctor know about your liver condition when being treated for other conditions. Medications come in many forms and it is best to find out what is in them and what it can do to your liver.

Body Location of the Liver

To look at the liver in relation to other organs in the body, visit the digestive system


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