The portal vein drains blood from the intestine, stomach, spleen, pancreas, and gallbladder into the liver. The liver processes the nutrients in this blood and filters out toxic substances. The hepatic veins then carry the blood away from the liver and into the inferior vena cava, which leads to the right atrium, one of the four chambers of the heart.
Review Date 5/4/2022
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.