Anatomy and Function of the Liver

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Take the Liver Disease Quiz

Liver disease causes (medications, toxins, genetics, cancer, and others)

Medications or drug induced liver inflammation

Liver inflammation is a relatively common side effect of medications. Some commonly prescribed medications include the following:

Toxins

  • Poisonous mushrooms may damage the liver and cause liver failure.
  • Alcohol in large doses can be toxic for the liver and damages the liver over time.
  • Aflatoxins produced by certain fungi are toxic to the liver
  • Industrial chemicals may be toxins that affect the liver, such as arsenic and carbon tetrachloride

Genetic disorders

Genetic disorders can affect the liver, examples include the following:

  • Hemochromatosis with abnormal iron storage
  • Wilson's Disease with abnormal copper storage
  • Gilbert's Disease with abnormal bilirubin metabolism

Cancer

  • Primary liver cancers arise directly from cells within the liver.
  • Metastatic liver disease describes cancer that arises from another organ and invades the liver

Abnormalities of bile flow from the liver

Abnormalities of bile flow from the liver may lead to liver inflammation, for example:

Decrease in blood flow draining from the liver

Decrease in blood flow draining out of the liver may cause the liver to become congested and inflamed, two examples include:

  • Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart is not strong enough to pump all of the blood it receives, and that blood can back up into the liver.
  • Budd Chiari syndrome is a disease in which blood clots form in the hepatic veins, preventing blood from leaving the liver.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/5/2016
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