It's located on the body's right side, just under the ribs.  In adults, it weighs about 2 to 3 pounds.

The liver performs more than 500 functions!

It's as essential as the heart and lungs

  • The liver helps break down food and convert it into energy and store the energy until needed.

  • Stores vitamins and minerals.

  • Produces cholesterol which is essential for health of the body's cells and to produce many hormones.

  • Produces blood proteins, including those that help the blood clot.

  • Breaks down toxins and other waste products.

  • Helps fight infections.

The Liver

Liver Damage

The liver is resilient and can repair itself after minor injury or damage.  Minor damage rarely affects the liver's functions and may not be noticed.

 

Liver damage can be sudden (acute) or chronic, meaning damage builds up slowly over time.  When damage is severe enough, liver functions are impaired and life-threatening conditions may develop.

Damage from viral hepatitis may be acute or chronic.  Acute damage is typical from new infections or if a new situation occurs in a person whose liver has some underlying damage.   Most cases of liver damage from viral hepatitis are chronic in nature.  Occurring over years as hepatitis virus infection causes inflammation and scarring (fibrosis).

Viral hepatitis may cause liver damage. At this time we can’t explain why some people develop more damage than others. The damage results from constant inflammation in the liver as the body tries to fight off the virus. The inflammation may cause liver scarring - called fibrosis. Over time, areas of fibrosis can start to connect with one another (bridging fibrosis). This fibrosis may start to impact the liver’s function. When the scarring becomes extensive, it is called cirrhosis. The scar tissue impedes blood flow through the liver. Liver cells die as they are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Blockage can increase pressure in the blood vessels around the liver and cause bleeding.

Liver Function

Liver Function Tests

Healthcare providers frequently order blood tests called ‘Liver Panel’, ‘Liver Function Tests’, or ‘Enzyme Tests’. These tests are indirect measures of the liver’s health. 

Liver Biopsy

Liver biopsies allow doctors to get a look at liver tissue. This is the best way to gauge the health of the liver. Blood tests help to identify potential problems, but examining the liver tissue directly helps doctors identify the reason for unexplained liver problems and determine the best course of treatment for liver diseases. While a biopsy provides a wealth of information about the liver, it is an invasive procedure so it is usually performed only when there is reason to believe that there is a problem with the liver.