Gross Anatomy and Histology of Normal Liver

Jennifer Kong

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify gross structures of the normal liver
  • Explain the colour and texture of the liver with the amount of blood and tissue make up
  • identify the liver lobule, sinusoids, central vein, and the components of the portal triad

Occupying the entire upper right quadrant (and a bit of the left!) of the abdomen, the liver sits  mostly behind the rib cage.  However, visually, the size, colour, and shape of the liver indicates its health and function.


Gross anatomy of normal liver with gallbladder. Presented by Jennifer Kong using DHPLC specimen “Normal liver teaching set” and M0704 Liver with Amyloidosis

Histologically, there is very little variation in liver tissue as the liver is made of thousands of hepatocytes (liver cells).  However, these hepatocytes are organized in patterns:  lobules have hepatocytes radiating from a central vein and numerous lobules are joined together to form “plates” of liver tissue separated by thin spaces known as sinusoids.

Histology of normal liver stained with H&E.  Presented by Yimei Qin using specimen from Dr. Gang Wang’s private collection. 

Section Summary

The liver is well vascularized (giving a rich red-brown colour) and predominantly made of hepatocytes, organized in plates comprised of lobules (giving a smooth, homogenous texture).  The posterior surface of the liver has the gallbladder and porta hepatis (comprising of hepatic artery, portal vein, and hepatic duct reside).   Histologically, the liver is made of thousands of liver lobules identifiable by hepatocytes radiating out from a central vein.  The outer border of the lobules are the portal triads, made of a small branch of the hepatic artery, portal vein, and bile duct.

Review Questions


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Pathology Copyright © 2022 by Jennifer Kong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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