Accessory Organs of Digestion-Part Two
Liver is located in the upper abdomen on the right side, under the diaphragm, superior to pylorus and duodenum. It is the largest solid organ of the body and is the largest gland of the body. Liver is about 8 inches across and6.5 inches vertical and 4.5 inches thick. It weighs around 1.6 kgs. It is a dome shaped structure that consists of two main bigger lobes and two minor lobes.
Liver has several functions. Some of the
important functions of liver are:
- Liver synthesizes, stores, processes fats, including fatty acids and cholesterol.
- Manufactures proteins such as albumin to help maintain the blood volume and it also synthesizes antibodies and essential elements of the blood-clotting mechanism.
- Liver forms and secrets bile that contains bile acids to help in the intestinal absorption of fats and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K.
- Metabolizes and stores carbohydrates for sugar in blood that red blood cells and brain use.
- Eliminates potentially harmful chemicals that are produced by the body. Example, eliminates bilurubin from the breakdown of old red blood cells and ammonia from the breakdown of proteins.
- It plays major role in detoxification of drugs, alcohol and environmental toxins.
- Liver stores blood, glycogen, vitamins A, D, and B12 and iron.
The main function of liver in digestion is that it produces bile, an alkaline compound that aids in digestion, via emulsification of lipids.
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped, non-vital organ that aids in the digestive process by storing the bile produced in the liver. It is a sac like structure that is usually stained dark green by the bile it contains. Hepatic duct connects the liver to the gallbladder. It is about 3 to 4 inches long and one inch wide.
The main function of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate the bile. The bile is the vital digestive liquid that is secreted by liver. The main function of bile is to emulsify fats and neutralize acids that form while digestion. Thus stored bile by the gallbladder is produced out only when fats enters the small intestine.