The Pathology of the LIVER
Pathology Of The Liver
Welcome back! So today we are going to be looking at what the liver does inside our body and the functions of it!
First of all let's get a little gross anatomy lecture on the liver first, so the liver is a triangular organ that extends across the entire abdominal cavity just inferior to the diaphragm. Most of the liver’s mass is located on the right side of the body where it descends inferiorly toward the right kidney.The liver is made of very soft, pinkish-brown tissues encapsulated by a connective tissue capsule. This capsule is further covered and reinforced by the peritoneum of the abdominal cavity, which protects the liver and holds it in place within the abdomen. The liver consists of 4 distinct lobes – the left, right, caudate, and quadrate lobes. The left and right lobes are the largest lobes and are separated by the falciform ligament. The RL (Right Lobe) is about 5 to 6 times larger than the tapered left lobe. The small caudate lobe extends from the posterior side of the right lobe and wraps around the inferior vena cava.
So now lets take a closer look at the Bile ducts - The tubes that carry bile through the liver and gallbladder are known as bile ducts and form a branched structure known as the biliary tree. Bile produced by liver cells drains into microscopic canals known as bile canaliculi. Just a quick glance as to what biles are (it pretty much is a dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the liver of most vertebrates , that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine.)
The blood vessels - The blood supply of the liver is unique among all organs of the body due to the hepatic portal vein system. Blood traveling to the spleen, stomach, gallbladder, and of course the intestines passes through capillaries in these organs and is collected into the HPV (Hepatic Portal Vein). It delivers this blood to the tissues of the liver where the contents of the blood are divided up into smaller vessels and processed before being passed on to the rest of the body. Now the interesting part is that leaving the tissues of the liver collects into the hepatic vein that lead to the vena cava and return to the great organ - the heart.
As we all know the liver is good at detoxification, that's why we make all those smoothies and juice for detoxing our liver. Well did you know that as blood from the digestive organs passes through the hepatic portal circulation, the hepatocytes of the liver monitor the contents of the blood and remove many potentially toxic substances before they can reach the rest of the body? Not only that but in order to keep hormone levels within homeostatic limits, the liver also metabolizes and removes from circulation hormones produced by the body’s own glands. Speaking of detox- let me tell you about the best way to detoxify your liver. First of all BEETJUICE...yes that's right beet juice is such a powerful vegetable, it has the great ability to improve blood flow and according to Dr. Oz they are richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates are compounds which improve blood flow throughout the body – including the brain, heart, and muscles. All you have to do is take 1 beet, 3 carrots, juice them al together and what you are going to do is take 1/2 of a lemon and squeeze it in there giving you a tangy flavor. Drinking this 1-2 times a month will help to get rid of any harmful toxins in the body and cleanse out your liver.
Storage - So your liver is pretty much like a storage room, it stores vitamins, and minerals obtained from blood passing through the hepatic portal system. Glucose is transported into hepatocytes under the influence of the hormone insulin and stored as the polysaccharide glycogen. The liver also stores vitamins such as A, D, E, K, and B12, and the minerals iron and copper - in order to provide a constant supply of these essential substances to the tissues of the body.
Alright, so now let's talk about how alcohol puts a big affect on the liver. Has anyone ever told you that drinking too much will affect your liver and kidneys? Well they are right... Let's explore more as to why that is the case. So here's the deal, the liver can only handle a certain amount of alcohol at any given time, so if you drink more than the liver can deal with by drinking too quickly, or drinking too much, your liver cells struggle to process it. So when the alcohol reaches your liver it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde which can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, as well as harm to the brain and stomach lining. But then that's not all that alcohol does...When alcohol enters the body it acts as a diuretic and as such dehydrates you and forces the liver to find water from other sources. The severe dehydration has such a bad affect on the liver. Which is why it is recommended that you consume anywhere from 4-7 cups of water everyday, of course to cleanse out your liver and the harmful toxins.
So yes alcohol can be so bad for your liver, but there's another thing. Too much fat can build up in your liver if you drink more than the liver can handle. This can cause inflammation and fatty liver disease. You can also develop fatty liver disease without even drinking alcohol. A poor diet, being an unhealthy weight, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease can put you at risk of getting liver disease. So a condition called hepatitis is caused by inflammation of the liver associated with long term, excessive drinking. The condition causes the liver to become swollen and tender. (Ohhhh and that can be painful). If you continue to drink heavily, alcoholic hepatitis will most likely persist and develop into cirrhosis. THAT WOULD NOT BE PRETTY!
Ok what is Cirrhosis? Cirrhosis occurs when the liver cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue because of chronic inflammation. The inflammation can develop because of chronic viral hepatitis, fatty liver disease, unsafe consumption of alcohol, some drugs and harmful substances. The scar tissue affects the flow of blood and other fluids through the liver.
Most recommendations from MDs suggest cutting out drinking completely or at least keeping alcohol intake to a minimum. But you have to know that everyone’s body is different and alcohol may cause abdominal pain and fatigue the day after drinking in some people. By bringing your consumption down you are reducing your risk of liver failure or disease.
If you do have any kind of pain around or close to the liver, visit your MD for more information. If you are consuming too much alcohol and may think you have cirrhosis you can call your doctor to schedule a visit.