Understanding the Liver

3-D Animation

Watch a medical animation to see illustrations of the liver and how liver cancer develops.

Your liver is the largest internal organ in your body. It’s located behind the ribs on the right side and has two parts, a right lobe and a smaller left lobe.

Two vessels supply blood to the liver: the hepatic portal vein and the hepatic artery. The hepatic portal vein provides most of the blood that the liver receives. It carries nutrient-rich blood from the intestines to the liver. The hepatic artery delivers blood rich in oxygen to the liver.

The liver performs a number of critical functions for the body that include:

Words to Know

Hepatic comes from the Greek word for liver, hepar.

  • Removing harmful materials from the blood
  • Creating bile to help break down fat, digest food, and remove waste from the body
  • Converting food into essential nutrients needed for life and growth
  • Enabling blood clotting, which stops the process of bleeding from a cut or injury
  • Storing glycogen (sugar), which your body uses for energy

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