The liver parenchyma is the functional component of the liver, composed of hepatocytes that filter the blood to eliminate toxins. In patients with liver disorders, part of the liver parenchyma is damaged and does not function properly. Damage to the liver can cause abnormal proteins, inefficiently filtering toxins from the blood, and causing other problems.
Individual hepatocytes grow in more or less hexagonal units called lobules. Each lobe is located around a central vein. Much of the blood supply of this organ is venous, which consists of filtering before it can be oxygenated and returned to circulation.
Several individual lobes form the liver; These should not be confused with the much smaller lobes that carry out the functions of this organ day by day. Damage to the lobes can result in excessive internal bleeding due to the supply of substantial blood from the liver. It can also decrease the efficiency of the liver, making it difficult to process the blood to remove compounds that could be dangerous.
Some people are born with congenital conditions that affect liver function. They may not be able to metabolize some compounds because their livers produce defective components. Such disorders can accumulate toxins in the body, sometimes created by lousy carrier molecules that mistakenly carry toxins to the cells instead of allowing the liver to excrete them. Treatments may include medications and changes in diet to control what goes into the liver and how it is processed.
Some acquired disorders can affect the liver parenchyma. These include hepatitis, liver cancer, and cirrhosis, usually caused by excessive alcohol consumption. They also cause progressive damage to the liver cells. This organ can regenerate and repair partial injuries, but this takes time. If the patient does not receive treatment, the liver may not be able to recover due to the damage caused, which overcomes the growth of new cells.
Medical imaging studies can show the liver parenchyma. Doctors may request mass evaluation or signs of liver disease as fat deposits in the functional areas of the liver. It can also help guide procedures, such as biopsies, which a medical professional performs using a needle inside the liver parenchyma or the surrounding area.