Liver anatomy and physiology

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High Yield Notes

6 pages


Your liver lies just below your diaphragm in the right upper quadrant of your abdominal cavity. And it does a wide range of things - from helping to manage the body’s metabolism, detoxification, and bile production.

The surface of the liver is covered by a serous membrane called the visceral peritoneum.

The visceral peritoneum folds over on itself, and it suspends the liver from the abdominal wall and the diaphragm.

There are five of these peritoneal folds and they’re referred to as ligaments.

There’s the falciform ligament, which attaches the liver to the anterior wall of the abdominal cavity.

There’s the round ligament of the liver, which is a fibrous cord found in the free margin of the falciform ligament.

There’s the coronary ligament, which attaches the liver to the inferior surface of the diaphragm.

There’s the right triangular ligament, which is a small triangular fold which attaches the right lateral surface of the liver to the diaphragm.

And lastly there’s the left triangular ligament, which attaches the upper left surface of the liver to the diaphragm.

Now, viewed from above, the liver is divided by the falciform ligament into two main lobes: the larger right lobe and the smaller left lobe.

When viewed from below, the liver has two additional lobes between the right and left lobe--the posterior caudate lobe and the anterior quadrate lobe. These two lobes are separated by the porta hepatis, which literally means “the gate to the liver”.

Now the porta hepatis contains the hepatic artery, the hepatic portal vein, and the common hepatic duct.

The hepatic artery delivers oxygen-rich arterial blood from the heart to the liver, while the hepatic portal vein delivers nutrient-rich venous blood from the gastrointestinal tract, but also from the spleen, and pancreas.


The liver is an organ that lies just below the diaphragm in the right upper quadrant of the abdominal cavity. It has a wide range of functions, including metabolism, detoxification, production of proteins important for blood clotting, and bile production.

The liver consists of four anatomical lobes, which are the right, left, caudate, quadrate lobes. Lobes are further subdivided into segments, all the way down to the main functional unit of the liver called hepatic lobule. Hepatic lobules are small with a specific hexagonal shape and it consists of four main parts: the portal triad, hepatocytes, hepatic sinusoids, and central vein.


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  6. "Anatomy of the hepatic hilar area: the plate system" Journal of Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery (2000)

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