The Hepatic Circulation Is Perfused by Venous Blood From Gastrointestinal Organs and a Separate Arterial Supply

The human liver has a large blood flow, about 1.5 L/min or 25% of the resting cardiac output. It is perfused by both arterial blood through the hepatic artery and venous blood that has passed through the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen, and portions of the large intestine.

The venous blood arrives via the hepatic portal vein and accounts for about 67 to 80% of the total liver blood flow (see Table 17.1). The remaining 20 to 33% of the total flow is through the hepatic artery. The majority of blood flow to the liver is determined by the flow through the stomach and small intestine.

About half of the oxygen used by the liver is derived from venous blood, even though the splanchnic organs have removed one third to one half of the available oxygen. The hepatic arterial circulation provides additional oxygen. The liver tissue efficiently extracts oxygen from the blood. The liver has a high metabolic rate and is a large organ, consequently, it has the largest oxygen consumption of all organs in a resting person. The metabolic functions of the liver are discussed in Chapter 28.

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