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About Your Liver

What the Liver Does

The liver is the largest organ in the body. It is located on the right side of the abdomen (to the right of the stomach) behind the lower ribs and below the lungs. The liver performs more than 400 functions each day to keep the body healthy. Some of its major jobs include:

  • converting food into nutrients the body can use (for example, the liver produces bile to help break down fats)
  • storing fats, sugars, iron, and vitamins for later use by the body
  • making the proteins needed for normal blood clotting
  • removing or chemically changing drugs, alcohol, and other substances that may be harmful or toxic to the body

Liver

Basic Functions of the Liver

The liver is the largest and one of the most complex organs in the body. It is located on the right side of the abdomen. The liver performs four basic functions:

  • It aids in digestion by helping in the absorption of fat and certain vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • It helps distribute the nutrients found in food
  • It helps "clean" the blood by removing medications and toxins
  • It produces important proteins that affect the blood, such as factors that are essential in making the blood clot after an injury.

The liver produces bile, which aids in the digestion and absorption of fats. Bile also aids in the absorption of substances such as vitamins A, D, E, and K and medication that patients take as an immunosuppressive agent following liver transplantation. The bile is stored in the gallbladder (which is located just below the liver) and then released into the intestines as needed. Together, these organs process the nutrients found in the foods we eat.

The liver also helps filter many chemical substances and waste products from the blood. Most medicines are cleaned from the bloodstream by the liver. The liver also removes any alcohol that's consumed.

Symptoms of Liver Disease

The symptoms of liver disease include:

  • jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin)
  • severe itching
  • dark urine
  • mental confusion or coma
  • vomiting of blood
  • easy bruising and tendency to bleed
  • gray or clay-colored stools
  • abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen
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For Liver, Pancreas and Bile Duct Surgery, please call (323) 442-7172. For Organ Transplant Information, please call (323) 442-5908

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Address

USC Hepatobiliary, Pancreas and
Abdominal Organ Transplant

1450 San Pablo Street
Healthcare Consultation Center 4
Suite 6200
Los Angeles, CA 90089

For Liver, Pancreas & Bile Duct Surgery,
please call (323) 442-7172
Fax: (323) 442-7173

For Organ Transplant Information,
please call (323) 442-5908

Fax: (323) 442-5721

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