Liver and Liver Failure
The liver is a vital organ in the body and the largest internal organ that performs many known and unknown essential functions of the body. It is the only organ in our body that has regenerative capabilities. Measuring an average of 5.5 inches, the liver is reddish-brown as it is saturated in blood. It is situated above and to the left of the stomach and below the lungs. The liver consists of two lobes, a larger right lobe and a smaller left lobe.
The liver is responsible for:
- Processing nutrients, medications and hormones
- Producing bile, which absorb fats, cholesterol and vitamins
- Producing proteins that help the blood clot
- Preventing infection and regulating the body’s immune responses
- Removing bacteria and toxins from the blood
The liver is attached to the gallbladder. It secretes bile into the hepatic ducts. The pancreas also secrete digestive juices. The liver, gallbladder, hepatic ducts and pancreas together form the hepatopancreaticobiliary system.
Failure of the liver may happen quickly or over a period of time. Acute liver failure is usually the result of complications from certain medications. Chronic liver failure may be caused by a number of conditions, the most likely of them being cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). Scar tissue replaces normal tissue over time and causes the liver to not function properly. A failure in the proper working of the liver results in the failure of the body to maintain homeostasis. While this damage to the liver is reversible at times, it is most often irreversible. Reversible conditions can be treated medically but irreversible conditions require a liver transplant.