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What’s The Purpose Of The Kidneys

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What Are Kidneys and How Do They Work?

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How Do The Kidneys And Urinary Tract Work

Blood travels to each kidney through the renal artery. The artery enters the kidney at the hilus , the indentation in middle of the kidney that gives it its bean shape. The artery then branches so blood can get to the nephrons 1 million tiny filtering units in each kidney that remove the harmful substances from the blood.

Each of the nephrons contain a filter called the glomerulus . The fluid that is filtered out from the blood then travels down a tiny tube-like structure called a tubule . The tubule adjusts the level of salts, water, and wastes that will leave the body in the urine. Filtered blood leaves the kidney through the renal vein and flows back to the heart.

Pee leaves the kidneys and travels through the ureters to the bladder. The bladder expands as it fills. When the bladder is full, nerve endings in its wall send messages to the brain. When a person needs to pee, the bladder walls tighten and a ring-like muscle that guards the exit from the bladder to the urethra, called the sphincter , relaxes. This lets pee go into the urethra and out of the body.

What Hormones Do The Kidneys Produce

The kidneys make two main hormones, vitamin D and erythropoietin.

Vitamin D is essential for a number of different functions in the body. Most of the vitamin D that is in the blood is inactive and it is modified by the kidney and other tissues to activate it. Active vitamin D stimulates the uptake of calcium from food, is important for the maintenance of healthy bones and also helps to regulate the response of the immune system to infection.

Erythropoietin is produced when oxygen levels in the blood are low. It acts in bone marrow to stimulate the production of mature red blood cells, to maintain healthy oxygen levels in our tissues.

The kidneys also produce prostaglandins, hormone-like substances, made from lipid . The substances are one way in which the production of renin is stimulated. Renin is an enzyme, also produced by the kidneys, that plays an important role in the reninangiotensinaldosterone hormonal system, which helps to control blood pressure. In addition to making hormones, the kidneys also respond to a number of hormones including vitamin D, aldosterone, prostaglandins, cortisol, parathyroid hormone and calcitonin.

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What Is A Kidney And Bladder Ultrasound

  • Kidney ultrasound: Examines your kidneys using sound waves and detects abnormalities in the size, shape, and position of your kidneys, as well as defects in the kidney tissue. It allows your doctor to assess how well blood is moving to your kidneys.
  • Bladder ultrasound: Detects abnormalities in the bladder such as bladder diverticula , bladder stones, and large tumors. According to the American Urological Association, bladder ultrasounds are generally used to determine how the bladder drains after urine by measuring the amount of urine that remains in the bladder after urination. If urine remains in the bladder, it could indicate an underlying issue, such as bladder dysfunction.

What Are The Kidneys And Urinary Tract

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The urinary tract is one of the systems that our bodies use to get rid of waste products. The kidneys are the part of the urinary tract that makes urine . Urine has salts, toxins, and water that need to be filtered out of the blood. After the kidneys make urine, it leaves the body using the rest of the urinary tract as a pathway.

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What Are The Parts Of The Urinary Tract

People usually have two kidneys, but can live a normal, healthy life with just one. The kidneys are under the ribcage in the back, one on each side. Each adult kidney is about the size of a fist.

Each kidney has an outer layer called the cortex, which contains filtering units. The center part of the kidney, the medulla , has fan-shaped structures called pyramids. These drain urine into cup-shaped tubes called calyxes .

From the calyxes, pee travels out of the kidneys through the ureters to be stored in the bladder . When a person urinates, the pee exits the bladder and goes out of the body through the urethra , another tube-like structure. The male urethra ends at the tip of the penis the female urethra ends just above the vaginal opening.

Secretion Of Active Compounds

The kidneys release several important compounds, including:

  • Erythropoietin: This controls erythropoiesis, which is the production of red blood cells. The liver also produces erythropoietin, but the kidneys are its main producers in adults.
  • Renin: This enzyme helps manage the expansion of arteries and the volumes of blood plasma, lymph, and interstitial fluid. Lymph is a fluid that contains white blood cells, which support immune activity, and interstitial fluid is the main component of extracellular fluid.
  • Calcitriol: This is the hormonally active metabolite of vitamin D. It increases both the amount of calcium that the intestines can absorb and the reabsorption of phosphate in the kidney.

A range of diseases can affect the kidneys. Environmental or medical factors may lead to kidney disease, and they can cause functional and structural problems from birth in some people.

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Measuring How Your Kidneys Work

It is difficult to calculate the exact rate at which your kidneys work. The best measure of kidney function is called the glomerular filtration rate . The GFR can be estimated using a mathematical formula. This formula uses the level of creatinine in your blood to estimate how well your kidneys are filtering waste from your blood. It can indicate if there is any kidney damage.

The higher the filtration rate, the better the kidneys are working. A GFR of 100 mL/min/1.73 m2 is in the normal range. This is about equal to 100 per cent kidney function. Based on this measurement system, a GFR of 50 mL/min/1.73 m2 could be called 50 per cent kidney function and a GFR of 30 mL/min/1.73 m2 could be called 30 per cent kidney function.

If your doctor orders a blood test to learn more about your kidney function, an eGFR result is provided automatically, along with your creatinine results.

Your doctor may also test for other signs and conditions that may indicate you have chronic kidney disease. These may include tests for:

  • protein in your urine
  • blood in your urine
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes.

Where Are The Kidneys

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Most people have two kidneys, which sit deep in the abdomen in the small of the back, either side of the spine.

Shaped like a bean, each kidney weighs anywhere between 40 grams to 190 grams depending on gender and can very between left and right kidney. A kidney is about 10-15cms long.

Many people are able to lead healthy and active lives with just one functioning kidney. Some may have been born with one kidney, others may have had a kidney removed due to illness or injury and some people may have donated one of their kidneys to someone with kidney failure .

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How Does Blood Flow Through My Kidneys

Blood flows into your kidney through the renalartery. This large blood vessel branches into smaller and smaller blood vessels until the blood reaches the nephrons. In the nephron, your blood is filtered by the tiny blood vessels of the glomeruli and then flows out of your kidney through the renal vein.

Your blood circulates through your kidneys many times a day. In a single day, your kidneys filter about 150 quarts of blood. Most of the water and other substances that filter through your glomeruli are returned to your blood by the tubules. Only 1 to 2 quarts become urine.

What Do The Kidneys Do

Your kidneys have many important functions. They clean toxins and waste out of your blood. Common waste products include nitrogen waste , muscle waste and acids. They help your body remove these substances. Your kidneys filter about half a cup of blood every minute.

In the process:

  • Blood flows into your kidneys through a large blood vessel called the renal artery.
  • Tiny blood vessels in your kidney filter the blood.
  • The filtered blood returns to your bloodstream through a large blood vessel called the renal vein.
  • Pee travels through tubes of muscle called ureters to your bladder.
  • Your bladder stores pee until you release it through urination .
  • The kidneys also:

    • Control the acid-base balance of your blood.
    • Make sugar if your blood doesnt have enough sugar.
    • Make a protein called renin that increases blood pressure.
    • Produce the hormones calcitriol and erythropoietin. Calcitriol is a form of vitamin D that helps your body absorb calcium. Erythropoietin helps your body make red blood cells.

    An adrenal gland sits on top of each kidney. It produces hormones, including cortisol, which helps your body respond to stress.

    Cortisol also plays a role in:

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    Why Kidney Health Is Vital To Your Overall Well

    In ancient times the kidneys were viewed as the seat of feelings, conscience, and yearnings and the source of morality and ethical activity. The kidneys were associated with the innermost parts of a persons personality and well-being. While we know now that kidneys have no direct role in shaping our ethics, emotions and personality, these two bean-shaped organs are nonetheless vital to our well-being.

    The kidney is a remarkably intricate organ that acts as the filter system of the body. Just as important, your kidneys also work to keep the whole body in a state of chemical balance. The kidneys regulate the substances, helpful and harmful, that float around in the body and keeps them within very tight parameters so the body can function as a well-oiled machine. This is called renal function.

    You cannot live without proper renal function, even if the kidneys are assisted artificially. Life would not continue without the many functions these organs perform.

    The kidney is the major player in the regulation of your blood pressure, and the make-up of the blood. Maintaining many hormones that are vital to our very existence, the kidneys even produce hormones that tell bones when to make more blood cells.

    How Can I Keep My Kidneys Healthy

    Health Topics Blogs : What Is Kidney Function

    Its important to have regular checkups and blood and urine tests to measure your kidneys health. You can reduce your risk of developing a kidney problem by:

    • Avoiding or quitting smoking and using tobacco products. Your provider can help you find ways to quit.
    • Cutting out excess salt, which can affect the balance of minerals in your blood.
    • Increasing daily exercise, which can reduce high blood pressure.
    • Limiting your use of NSAIDs. NSAIDs can cause kidney damage if you take them too much.
    • Watching your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.

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    What Are Common Tests To Check The Health Of My Kidneys

    Healthcare providers use several tests to measure kidney function and diagnose kidney problems. Your provider may recommend:

    • Advanced imaging: An X-ray, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound or nuclear medicine image can show kidney abnormalities or obstructions .
    • Blood tests: Blood tests show how well your glomeruli filter your blood.
    • Kidney biopsy: During a kidney biopsy, your healthcare provider removes a small amount of your kidney tissue to examine it under a microscope.
    • Ureteroscopy: Your healthcare provider passes a tube through your urethra into your bladder and ureters to look for abnormalities.
    • Urinalysis: A urinalysis analyzes your pee. It measures specific substances, such as protein or blood.

    What Happens During A Kidney Ultrasound

    A kidney ultrasound may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part ofyour stay in a hospital. Although each facility may have differentprotocols in place, generally an ultrasound procedure follows this process:

  • You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the scan.

  • If asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.

  • You will lie on an examination table on your stomach.

  • Ultrasound gel is placed on the area of the body that will undergo the ultrasound examination.

  • Using a transducer, a device that sends out the ultrasound waves, the ultrasound wave will be sent through that patient’s body.

  • The sound will be reflected off structures inside the body, and the ultrasound machine will analyze the information from the sound waves.

  • The ultrasound machine will create images of these structures on a monitor. These images will be stored digitally.

  • If the bladder is examined, you will be asked to empty your bladder after scans of the full bladder have been completed. Additional scans will be made of the empty bladder.

  • There are no confirmed adverse biological effects on patients or instrumentoperators caused by exposures to ultrasound at the intensity levels used indiagnostic ultrasound.

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    How Is A Kidney And Bladder Ultrasound Performed


    • You normally do not need to refrain from eating or drinking prior to the test.
    • In most cases, sedation is not required.
    • In some cases, you may be asked to hold in your urine.
    • The gel used on your skin during the test will not stain your clothing. While the gel may not be entirely removed from your skin after the procedure, it will wash off in the shower.


    • A kidney ultrasound can be performed as an outpatient procedure or as part of a hospital stay. The manner in which the test is performed differs depending on your condition. In general, however, a kidney ultrasound follows the following steps:
    • You will be asked to take off any jewelry or other things that could interfere with the scan. It is possible that you will be asked to remove your clothing. In this case, you will be provided a gown to wear.
    • You will be asked to lay on your stomach on an exam table, and you will be advised when to change positions if necessary.
    • A transparent gel will be applied to the skin over the area to be examined. When applied, it may feel cool.
    • The transducer will be pressed against the skin and moved over the area being analyzed.
    • When a Doppler probe is used to examine blood flow, you may hear sounds which indicate the flow of blood.
    • If your bladder is examined initially, the scan is performed on a full bladder later you will be asked to empty your bladder to undergo more scans.
    • When the test is over, the gel will be wiped away.

    Where Are My Kidneys

    What Foods Are Good For Your Kidneys?

    The kidneys are small bean-shaped organs approximately 6 cm wide and 12 cm long and consist of two main layers an inner layer called the medulla and an outer layer called the cortex. Most people have two kidneys that are situated at the back of the abdomen on either side of the spine.

    Graphic showing a section through the right kidney with the main structures labelled.

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    Is It Kidney Pain Or Back Pain

    Kidney pain and back pain are similar, and people often confuse them.

    Back pain usually occurs in your lower back.

    Kidney pain is deeper in your body and higher up your back. Youll likely feel pain in your sides or your middle- to upper-back area . The pain may progress to other areas, including your abdomen or groin.

    Kidney pain results from swelling or blockage of your kidneys or urinary tract. Symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting or pain when you pee.

    What Are The Reasons For A Kidney Ultrasound

    A kidney ultrasound may be used to assess the size, location, and shapeof the kidneys and related structures, such as the ureters and bladder.Ultrasound can detect cysts, tumors, abscesses, obstructions, fluidcollection, and infection within or around the kidneys.Calculi of the kidneysand ureters may be detected by ultrasound.

    A kidney ultrasound may be performed to assist in placement of needlesused tobiopsy the kidneys, to drain fluid from a cyst or abscess, or to place a drainage tube.This procedure may also be used to determine blood flow to the kidneysthrough the renal arteries and veins.

    Kidney ultrasound may be used after akidney transplantto evaluate the transplanted kidney.

    There may be other reasons for your physician to recommend a kidneyultrasound.

    Our Approach to Kidney Ultrasounds

    The Johns Hopkins Kidney Program is one of the first in the country and our doctors have pioneered some of the most innovative treatments for patients with renal failure. In addition to offering leading-edge procedures, our program offers shorter wait times and minimally invasive options, which can lead to a faster recovery.

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    What Is The Purpose Of Kidneys In Human Body

    The kidneysare one of the most important organs in the human body. Each human has two bean-shaped kidneys, and each one is approximately the size of a fist. These organs are located below the rib cage, and each kidney is on either side of the spine. The kidneys serve many important functions such as filtering blood, getting rid of waste, regulatingblood pressure, releasing necessary hormones, creating and regulating red blood cells, creating vitamins, regulating nutrients, etc. As you can see, these functions are required for the human body’s proper function, and it is necessary to keep them in balance.

    How Do They Work?

    The kidneys work in a very similar fashion as filters. Basically, blood goes into the kidneys from the heart through the renal artery and then the kidneys clean this blood. The kidneys contain millions of small blood filters that clean the blood when it flows through them. All of the waste material is then passed onto the bladder, where it is stored as urine. Once the bladder is full, then you’ll feel the urge to urinate, and the urine which contains the waste materials will pass through your urethra. The clean blood will then be transported back into your bloodstream via various veins.

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    Eat Healthy & Watch Your Weight

    Drink Lots Of Water

    Avoid Smoking

    Monitor Usage of OTC Pills

    Control Blood Sugar

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