Liver Units (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:00 Now, let's talk about the working units of the liver. The liver tissue itself, like the actual meat of my liver, is made up of thousands of smaller units called lobules. Okay, so when I say thousands of smaller units, I mean like 100,000 smaller units. So, these are tiny-working units, but they have even smaller cells called hepatocytes inside each of the lobules. Now, looking at our drawing, you can see it's got that funny shape. Right? It's called a hexagonal shape, and then there are 6 sets of 3 tubes. Let's call them that. So, you'll look around the drawing there, and you see there is a red tube, a blue tube, and a green tube. Well, the red stands for arteries, the blue stands for veins, and the green stands for bile. So, inside the lobule, remember we have blood coming back, right, it's coming back from the gut. It's going to be coming through those blue vessels, those tiny veins and venules, and these spread out through the liver and all the lobules. The artery is also supplying blood to the liver down to these lobules. So, it's coming into the lobule through the red tubes or the tiny little arteries or arterioles. So, the red tube and the blue tube are sending blood through that lobule toward the center. Now, bile is being created by the hepatocytes, those little tiny worker bee cells inside the lobule. We've got strands and cords of them. It's producing bile and sending it from the inside of the lobule, the center of the lobule, to the outside of the lobule, into those green tubes through the little bile canaliculi, and those are the bile ducts. Those tubes will lead to the hepatic ducts, and eventually it will drain down into our gallbladder and from the gallbladder, down into the small intestine. So, let's review that again because it's a super important part of you understanding how the liver works. Bile and blood are carried in between those little worker bee cells in the lobule called hepatocytes. So, both bile and blood travel in between those cells. Now, sinusoids, which are kind of a special type of capillary in your liver, carry the blood both venous and arterial because remember in that capillary is where the venous and arterial blood mix. So, those hepatocytes are kind of bathed in the blood supply, and the sinusoids are the spaces that carry the blood, and the bile is carried by the canaliculi. So, we've got bile and blood in each of the lobules. In order for the liver to work, we got to have things free-flowing. So, there's got to be great connection in order inside the lobules. When the liver starts to get damaged, this is where we start to see a problem. So, the hepatocytes need to be healthy, passageways need to be clear, but when the liver starts to be damaged, that's where the problem happens. Blood can't flow freely either from the artery or back into the veins and out of the liver, and we're having problems with oxygenation and delivery. If the bile canaliculi are messed up, they can't deliver bile to the bile ducts, so this is why it's important that you understand how the bile and blood work when we start talking about liver diseases.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Liver Units (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Liver Functions and Dysfunctions (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Bile
    2. Blood
    3. Platelets
    4. Lymph
    1. Portal arteriole
    2. Portal venule
    3. Bile duct
    4. Vena cava
    5. Aorta

    Author of lecture Liver Units (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    By Kristin B. on 02. October 2020 for Liver Units (Nursing)

    this lecture was easy to follow and informative. a good refresher for a&p.