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Gastrohepatic Ligament

What Is It, Location, and More

Author: Nikol Natalia Armata

Editors: Alyssa Haag, Józia McGowan, DO

Illustrator: Jillian Dunbar

Copyeditor: Joy Mapes


What is the gastrohepatic ligament?

The gastrohepatic ligament (GHL) is a peritoneal fold, a double-layered membrane that connects the liver to the stomach and part of the esophagus. Between this double layer of the peritoneum (i.e., connective tissue that covers the abdominal wall and organs) lies fat tissue, which protects the right and left gastric vessels, branches of the vagus nerve, and the left gastric chain of lymph nodes that reside within the ligament. The GHL and the hepatoduodenal ligament, which connects the liver to a portion of the small intestine called the duodenum, form the lesser omentum. The lesser omentum provides support to some of the main organs of the digestive system (e.g., liver, esophagus, stomach). 

Where is the gastrohepatic ligament located?

The gastrohepatic ligament is located between the liver and the stomach and is part of the lesser omentum, a double peritoneal layer that covers the upper abdomen. The gastrohepatic ligament extends from the liver to the smaller curvature of the stomach (i.e., the shortest curvature of the stomach body, closer to the liver) and the first part of the duodenum (i.e., the first segment of the small intestine). The lower end of the GHL is continuous with the hepatoduodenal ligament, together forming the lesser omentum.

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What does the gastrohepatic ligament do?

The gastrohepatic ligament is responsible for anchoring the stomach and liver within the abdominal cavity. Additionally, the GHL protects its contents: the right and left gastric vessels, branches of the vagus nerve, and the left gastric chain of lymph nodes. 

Ruptures, or tears, of the GHL, are rarely diagnosed, as their symptoms typically mimic those of other liver injuries. Ultrasound can detect tears of the GHL by identifying related findings, such as collection of fluids, like blood, within the peritoneal cavity. Intraperitoneal fluid collection is often noticeable only in Morison’s pouch, which is the space below the liver and above the right kidney.

What are the most important facts to know about the gastrohepatic ligament?

The gastrohepatic ligament (GHL) is a peritoneal fold that connects the stomach and part of the esophagus with the liver. The GHL is located between the liver and the stomach and is one part of the lesser omentum. It is responsible for holding the stomach and liver in place and protecting the anatomical structures it encloses.

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Related links

Liver anatomy and physiology
Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Esophagus and stomach
Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Liver, biliary ducts and gallbladder

Resources for research and reference

The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma. (n.d.). Liver injury scale (2018 revision). In Resources: Injury scoring scale. Retrieved from https://www.aast.org/resources-detail/injury-scoring-scale#liver  

Desai, G., & Filly, R. A. (2010). Sonographic anatomy of the gastrohepatic ligament. Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, 29(1), 87-93. DOI: 10.7863/jum.2010.29.1.87 

Grassi, R., de Rosa, R., Greco, M., Maggialetti, A., Maiorano, M., Cappabianca, S. (2004). Blunt trauma of the hepatogastric ligament: A case-report. The Journal of Trauma, 56(2): 428-430. DOI: 10.1097/01.TA.0000028836.78679.C6