Merck Manual

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Overview of the Liver and Gallbladder


Christina C. Lindenmeyer

, MD,

  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University

Last full review/revision Oct 2019| Content last modified Oct 2019
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Located in the upper right portion of the abdomen, the liver and gallbladder are interconnected by ducts known as the biliary tract, which drains into the first segment of the small intestine (the duodenum). Although the liver and gallbladder participate in some of the same functions, they are very different.

View of the Liver and Gallbladder

Liver cells produce bile, which flows into small channels called bile canaliculi. These small channels drain into bile ducts. The ducts join to form larger and larger channels and eventually form the left and right hepatic ducts, which join to form the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct joins with a duct connected to the gallbladder, called the cystic duct, to form the common bile duct. The common bile duct is joined by the pancreatic duct just before it enters the small intestine at the sphincter of Oddi.

View of the Liver and Gallbladder
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