The connection between the left and right hepatic ducts forms the common hepatic duct, whose function is to drain bile from the liver. This duct is an important part of the biliary duct system, which transports waste from the liver and aids in digestion by releasing bile. Bile is a greenish-brown fluid that helps digest fats.
When measured in adults, the common hepatic duct is approximately six to eight centimeters in length. It is approximately six millimeters in diameter in adults. It is connected to the gallbladder through the cystic duct. Together, they form the common bile duct, which helps transport secretions from the liver and gallbladder down to the intestines. These secretions include proteins, hormones, nutrients, enzymes, and coagulation factors, which are all important in various physiologic functions.
Disorders that affect the liver can also affect the common hepatic duct, such as liver cancer, fatty liver, and cirrhosis. Obstruction of the duct can also occur for various reasons, including duct stones, inflammation, and tumors.