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Anterior view of the liver

Structures seen on the anterior view of the isolated liver.

Show transcript

Hello, everyone! This is Megan from Kenhub, and welcome to another anatomy tutorial. In this tutorial, we will be looking at the liver from the anterior view. The liver is the largest organ in the abdomen and, therefore, it is essential for us to know its structure from all aspects.

So, firstly, I want to begin this tutorial by talking a bit about the liver in general. The liver is an accessory organ of the GI tract and has many functions. It’s located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen and extends across the epigastrium into the upper left quadrant. The liver has several important functions including detoxification, protein synthesis, biochemical production and nutrient storage. It’s also the largest gland in the body and is made up of four anatomical lobes. We will discuss these lobes in greater detail in another tutorial but today we are going to focus on the structures we can see when we look at the anterior view of the liver and the structures closely related to it.

The first structure that we’re going to look at that is closely related to the liver is the diaphragm. We can see it here highlighted in green. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped sheet made up of skeletal muscle and tendon. It’s situated in the trunk of the body and separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. The superior border of the diaphragm is continuous with the xiphoid process anteriorly. Laterally, it’s continuous with the lower six costal cartilages. Finally, it’s also continuous with the first to third lumbar vertebrae posteriorly. The superior surface of the liver faces the inferior surface of the diaphragm.

The liver is strongly attached to the diaphragm via the ligament highlighted in green here. It’s known as the coronary ligament. This ligament is a reflection of peritoneum that runs between the diaphragmatic surface and the visceral surface of the liver. It has two portions, an anterior one and a posterior one. Between these two portions of the coronary ligament, we see the bare area of the liver.

As we just saw in our previous slide, the area between the anterior and posterior part of the coronary ligament is called the bare area of the liver. The bare area of the liver is the portion of the liver that is firmly attached to the inferior surface of the diaphragm via the coronary ligament. We can see it here highlighted in green in our illustration. This part of the liver is not covered by peritoneum, hence, named bare area. The two portions of the coronary ligament that we saw earlier come together laterally to form the triangular ligaments.

The right triangular ligament of the liver is this triangular fold of peritoneum seen here in green on the right side. It is situated between the right lobe of the liver and the diaphragm forming the right end of the coronary ligament. On the left side between the liver and the diaphragm is the other triangular peritoneal fold known as the left triangular ligament. Here, we can see it on the posterior aspect of the liver highlighted in green. This ligament forms the left end of the coronary ligament of the liver. It connects the left upper surface of the liver specifically the left lobe of the liver to the diaphragm. Immediately, lateral to the triangular ligament, we see the fibrous appendix of the liver. It’s not always present on the liver; however, when it is, it can be seen as a connective tissue band located on the upper end of the left lobe of the liver.

On the most anterior surface of the liver, we see another ligament known as the falciform ligament. The falciform ligament extends from the anterior and inferior sides of the liver to the anterior abdominal wall. Like the ligaments we have already discussed, the falciform ligament is also a peritoneal fold and attaches the liver to the anterior abdominal wall. At the inferior end of the liver, the falciform ligament forms the round ligament of the liver. It divides the left lobe of the liver into medial and lateral sections and connects the liver to the umbilicus. The ligament is a connective tissue remnant of the fetal umbilical vein. It’s formed by the free edge of the falciform ligament and inserts at the umbilicus. To get a clearer picture of the round ligament of the liver, we can view it from the underside of the liver here highlighted in green.

The umbilical vein that I just mentioned is not present or functional after birth. It is present during fetal development and functions to carry oxygenated blood from the placenta to the developing fetus. As I mentioned previously, the round ligament of the liver is a connective tissue remnant of the umbilical vein. The fetal umbilical vein shouldn’t be confused with the umbilical part of the portal vein. The umbilical part of the portal vein is a sagittal continuation of the hepatic portal vein into the left lobe of the liver.

Now, we have covered the ligaments of the liver, let’s take a look at the liver itself starting with the lobes of the liver. There are four main macroscopically visible lobes of the liver. From the anterior view of the liver, one of the lobes that can be visualized is the larger right lobe. It is separated from the left lobe of the liver by three peritoneal folds, namely, the falciform ligament, ligamentum venosum, and the round ligament of the liver. It is situated in the right hypochondriac region. For more on the structure of the right lobe of the liver, please check out our tutorial on the inferior view of the liver.

Also seen from the anterior view of the liver is the left lobe of the liver. As you can see, this lobe is smaller than the right lobe and flatter. Its right border corresponds to a line connecting the inferior vena cava and the fundus of the gallbladder and its superior border – or superior surface – is molded on to the diaphragm giving it a slightly convex shape. These relations cannot be seen from this illustration but please take note of them. The smaller left lobe is situated in the left hypochondriac and epigastric regions of the body. For more on the structure of the left lobe with the liver, please check out our tutorial on the inferior view of the liver.

The inferior margin of both the left and right lobes of the liver is the border between the diaphragmatic surface and the visceral surface of the liver. A notch for the round ligament of the liver is found at this margin. Finally, when we look at the anterior view of the liver, another closely related organ we can see is the gallbladder. Here we can see the fundus of the gallbladder which is the round, caudally-directed end of the gallbladder. It’s highlighted in yellow. The gallbladder is nestled in the fossa of the gallbladder on the visceral surface of the liver.

Now that you just completed this video tutorial, then it’s time for you to continue your learning experience by testing and also applying your knowledge. There are three ways you can do so here at Kenhub. The first one is by clicking on our “start training” button, the second one is by browsing through our related articles library, and the third one is by checking out our atlas.

Now, good luck everyone, and I will see you next time.

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