Structure: Liver, Gallbladder, and Pancreas

The liver, gallbladder, and pancreas all take part in the process of digestion by secreting digestive juices that break down food molecules. The liver produces a greenish digestive juice called bile, which is stored in the sac-like gallbladder. The pancreas produces a powerful digestive fluid known as pancreatic juice. When food enters the duodenum from the stomach, the duodenal lining releases hormones that stimulate the gallbladder and pancreas to release their juices.

Wall of gallbladder

The heavily folded inner wall of the gallbladder can be seen in this highly magnified image.

Pancreatic enzymes

This magnified view shows granules that contain enzymes in pancreatic cells.

Cross section of liver lobules

The liver consists of thousands of lobules, tiny blood-processing units each 1 mm ( 1 / 25 in) wide.

Liver function

The liver is the body’s chemical factory, converting molecules into simpler or more complex forms as the body requires. For example, nutrients are modified in the liver, then stored there or distributed throughout the body; toxins such as alcohol are broken down into less harmful substances. The liver also produces the digestive juice bile.

Inside a liver lobule

Branches of the portal vein, hepatic artery, and bile duct surround each lobule. A central vein carries blood to the heart.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

Back to top