The liver is the largest organ in the body. It is located on the right side of the body under your rib cage. The liver filters blood, helps with blood clotting, makes bile, breaks down fats, and helps process sugar for energy. The liver also produces lymph. Inside the liver is a network of blood and lymph vessels.
The liver has two lobes, a right and left lobe. Blood enters the liver from the hepatic artery and the portal vein. Blood leaves the liver through the hepatic veins before entering the inferior vena cava and returning to the heart.
Liver cells make bile. Bile is a yellow or green fluid made up of cholesterol, bilirubin, salts such as potassium and sodium, water, and other elements found in the body. It flows into small channels that drain into thin tubes called ducts. These ducts form larger and larger channels that flow into the left and right hepatic ducts.
The left and right hepatic ducts join to form the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct joins with the cystic duct that connects to the gallbladder to form the common bile duct. The common bile duct is joined by the pancreatic duct just before it enters the small intestine.
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ found under the liver. It is sometimes described as sac-like because it holds bile from the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder, and when you eat, it then passes through the bile ducts into the small bowel to help digest food.
The hepatobiliary system
The liver is part of the hepatobiliary system. Hepato means liver and biliary refers to the gallbladder and bile ducts. Together, they form the hepatobiliary system. The hepatobiliary system makes bile and is a part of the digestive system. The digestive system takes in food, breaks it down (digestion), absorbs nutrients, and removes waste from the body. Some doctors consider the pancreas to be a part of this system.