The liver is the largest gland in the human body. It is located in
the upper right abdomen.
The normal liver has many important complex functions. These functions include manufacture of plasma proteins, storage of carbohydrates, detoxifying drugs and toxins, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, bile formation, and others.
Cirrhosis is a disease of the liver in which normal cells are replaced by scar tissue. This condition results in the failure of the liver to perform many of its usual functions. There are many causes of cirrhosis. Alcohol is a very common cause, particularly in the Western world. The development of cirrhosis in alcohol consumers depends upon the amount and regularity of intake.
Viral liver inflammation (hepatitis) is also a common cause of cirrhosis, although most patients with viral hepatitis will not develop cirrhosis.
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Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004