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The Gallbladder, Bile Ducts and Liver

Where? What? How?

The liver is located on the right side of the abdomen just under the ribs. The liver has two main lobes--the right lobe, which is the largest, and the left lobe. The liver, gallbladder and bile ducts are part of the human the gastrointestinal, or digestive tract. 

The liver contains many small bile ducts that allow bile that is made by the liver to drain into the gallbladder (see anatomy below). 

The liver breaks down every substance people consume including food, medications, vitamins and alcohol.  The liver turns food into protein and carbohydrates that the body needs for growth.

One of the important substances made by the liver is bile because it is needed for digestion. Bile travels through a “tree” of many tiny bile ducts, and is stored in the gallbladder. When food enters the stomach, the gallbladder and bile ducts contract (squeeze) and send bile into the small intestine (the duodenum) where bile helps to digest food, especially fat and protein.

If the bile ducts or gallbladder become blocked, bile backs up in the liver which causes jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes. Other symptoms of biliary obstruction can include nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss. Anyone with these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention from specialists in liver and biliary disorders.


Educate. Advocate. Eradicate.



Last Updated on 11/27/2012 4:52:30 PM