Structure of the human kidney. Kidney functions and diseases

The kidney is one of the most important organs in the human body. Usually it is associated with urine production, but it is involved in many other, equally important processes. What is the structure of the kidney, what are its other functions? What are the most common kidney diseases? Check it out!

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1. Characteristics of the kidneys

The kidneys are a paired organ, bean-shaped, with a dark brown color due to the large amount of blood they contain. They are located in the abdomen, in the retroperitoneal space, on both sides of the spine, under the liver and behind the stomach.

They are located at the level of the last two thoracic vertebrae and the first three lumbar vertebrae. The left is usually larger than the right and higher than the right. A single kidney weighs from 120 g to 200 g.

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2. The external structure of the kidney

The structure of the kidney is not the simplest one. We can distinguish two surfaces in it: front and back; two edges: lateral and medial and two ends: upper and lower pole.

First of all, the edges are important - in the area of ​​the medial edge there is a depression that forms the recess of the kidney. This is where there is a renal artery that carries blood to it.

The renal vein is also located in this cavity, which drains blood, nerve fibers, lymph vessels and ureter from the kidney. There are several casings around the kidney. In the middle is the so-called fibrous capsule, and right above it is the fatty capsule. The outermost sheath is the renal fascia.

In close proximity to the kidneys there are, among others liver, gallbladder, spleen and stomach. Directly connected to them are the adrenal glands (adrenal glands), which are located next to the upper poles of the kidneys.

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3. The internal structure of the kidneys

Internally, the kidney consists of two parts and they are:

  • the core of the kidneys (inner part);
  • kidney cortex (outer part).

Within the renal core, there are conical-shaped kidney pyramids, and each of them ends with a renal papilla (this is where the outlets are located, the so-called collecting tubules).

The basic functional and structural unit of this organ is the nephron. There are from 1 - 1.5 million of these units in a single kidney. It consists mainly of the renal tubule and the glomerulus.

The kidney glomerulus is made of a network of capillaries in which the basic tasks of the kidney take place, i.e. filtering the blood that flows through them.

The glomerulus consists of:

  • basement membrane;
  • podocytes;
  • endothelial cells;
  • mesangium (glomerular support element);
  • parietal epithelial cells.

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The renal tubule (coil) consists of:

  • proximal tortuous tubule;
  • distal tortuous tubule;
  • Henle's loop with its components.

The filtrate formed in the nephron passes from the distal tubule to the collecting tubules, then the urine flows into the renal pelvis and then goes to the ureter. In both kidneys, there are single ureters that eventually enter the bladder.

4. Kidney functions

Well-functioning kidneys are a condition of health. Their impairment can be life-threatening, and the complete absence of a kidney, without appropriate treatment, inevitably leads to death.

The functions of the kidneys include:

  • excretory function;
  • regulation of body fluid volume and osmolarity;
  • removal of harmful metabolic products with urine;
  • effect on blood pressure;
  • effect on the skeletal system through the production of the active form of vitamin D3.

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5. Kidney disease

The most common kidney diseases are:

  • glomerulonephritis;
  • kidney stones;
  • pyelonephritis;
  • diabetic nephropathy;
  • polycystic kidney disease;
  • renal hypertension;
  • kidney abscess;
  • kidney tumors;
  • lupus nephropathy;
  • renal failure (acute or chronic).
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