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The aim of this assignment is to demonstrate an understanding of the renal

systems structure and function. In addition to the basic renal system, the
passage of blood through the kidneys, the passage of tubular fluid through the
nephron and collecting duct, the passage of urine through the ureter, bladder
and urethra, the process of filtration, reabsorption, secretion and urination and
finally a summary of the excretion process will be discussed.
The Renal System consists of THE KIDNEYS, URETERS, THE BLADDER and
URETHRA, and is involved in fluid balance, electrolyte balance, maintaining
blood homeostasis and produces, stores and eliminates urine. In conjunction with
the intestines, skin and lungs, the renal system maintains the water and
chemical balance in the body. In a nutshell the kidneys produces urine by
filtering wastes and extra water from the blood. The urine is then transported
from the kidneys through 2 tubes (ureters) into the bladder, until the bladder is
full enough for the body, then the individual urinates the liquid through urethra
to rid itself of the waste.
The urinary system is involved in several body functions;

Metabolic waste product removal (uric acid as well as urea) from the body
Electrolyte balance regulation (e.g. calcium, sodium and potassium)
Control of body water content and blood volume also known as
Regulating blood PH and acid-base homeostasis

The Kidneys
Location: Located behind the peritoneal cavity on the posterior abdominal wall
and either side of the spine. The left kidney sits a bit higher than the right kidney
to accommodate the liver
Definition: A pair of organs in the dorsal region of the vertebrate abdominal
cavity, functioning to maintain proper water and electrolyte balance, regulate
acidbase concentration, and filter the blood
of metabolic wastes, which are then excreted as urine.
(http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4103 )
Main Function: The kidneys are the waste filtering and disposal system of the
Physical Description: Two reddish bean shaped organs that is about the size of a
Significant Features and Functions:

Regulation of blood volume

Regulations of blood pressure
Regulation of electrolytes
Excretion of waste products
Hormone production

The Bladder


Location: Located in the pelvis, just above and behind the pubic bone.
Definition: A hollow organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine.
Main Function: Temporary storage reservoir for urine before eliminating it
Physical Description: A muscular sac, when empty, the bladder is about the size
and shape of a pear, the size varies due to the volume of urine within
Significant Features and Functions:
The wall of the bladder has four layers

Peritoneum shields the superior exterior of the bladder, remaining

exterior shiled consists of fibrous tissue
Detrusor muscle the muscle condenses at the bladder-urethral
junction to form an internal urethral sphincter
Involuntary contractions opens the sphincter to allow urine into the
Submucosa layer- contain nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels
Transitional epithelium covers the folds within the bladder allowing it
to distend

The Ureters
Location: Each kidney has a ureter attached to it. The ureter is split into 2
locations, with the upper half in die abdomen and the lower half in the pelvic
Definition: One of the two tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Each ureter arises from a kidney, descends, and ends in the bladder.
Main Function: To transport urine from the renal pelvis of the kidney to the
urinary bladder
Physical Description: Almost 12 inches in length, the ureter consists of a tube
with thick walls thats composed of a fibrous, a muscular and a mucus coat, all of
which are able to contract.
Significant Features and Functions:
The ureters walls consists out of muscles, that by contracting and relaxing forces
the urine away from the kidneys
The Ureters pass below the urinary bladder, thus allowing the compression from
the bladder to assist with the prevention of urine backflow. Should urine backflow
occur, the ureter as well as the urinary bladder may develop inflammation, which
could develop into a kidney infection.
The Urethra


Location: Passes from the bladder; - in females that it ends inferior to the clitoris
and superior to the vaginal opening, in males it ends at the tip of the penis
Definition: The tube through which urine moves from the bladder and out of the
body and that in men and male animals is also the means by which semen
leaves the body (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urethra)
Main Function: To carry urine from the bladder emitting out of the body in both
males and female, however in addition to the aforementioned, the urethra in
males also to transport semen from the testes through the penis
Physical Description: A tubular structure that varies in length (depending
whether male of female); female 1.5 inches long, males 8 inches long
Significant Features and Functions:

The urethral sphincter is a muscular structure that is responsible to assist

in keeping the urethra closed until voluntary excretion.
In males the urethra server a dual function, urine excretion and the
ejaculation of seminal fluid.
o During penile erection (and during sex) the flow of urine is blocked
allowing the urethra to only serve in the reproduction process by
ejaculation of semen.

As previously mentioned the renal system is responsible for fluid balance,

electrolyte balance, maintaining blood homeostasis and produces, stores and
eliminates urine. In order for this to be maintained a number of processes are
followed, starting with the blood flow through the kidneys.
The bodys entire blood flow supply flows through the kidneys at least 20 times
per hour. The arteries supply the blood into the kidneys and the veins return the
blood back to the heart. The blood enters the kidney through the renal artery
Blood flow through Kidneys
Renal artery
Segmental arteries
Lobar arteries
Arcuate arteries
Afferent arterioles
Efferent arterioles
Peritubular capillaries
Vasa recta
Interlobular vein
Arcuate Vein
Interlobar Vein
Renal Vein
and comes from the abdominal aorta.
The renal artery then divides into segmental arteries and then these divide into
lobar arteries, which then divide into interlobar arteries. These interlobar arteries
then branch into arcuate arteries that are situated between the medulla and the
cortex of the kidney. Then the blood is split into even smaller (microscopic)
arterioles, that flows into the nephrons. These nephrons are so small that they
are invisible to the naked eye and both kidney each contain almost a million of
these nephrons. As the functional units of the kidneys, the nephrons are
responsible for filtering, cleaning and regulating the blood, producing urine, and
synthesizing hormones.


The nephron is situated within the cortex with the tubule in part of the medulla.
The nephron consists of two major structures, the renal corpuscle and the
tubules. Within the renal corpuscle sits the glomerulus that leads into the
Bowmans capsule. The glomerulus is small ball-shaped structure composed of
capillary blood vessels. Basically like a sieve and anything bigger than the holes
will not to allow blood cells and proteins to pass through. From here the blood
flows through the peritubular capillaries, and the ultrafiltrate flows through the
In the early parts of the tubule, almost all of the nutrients in the filtrate get
reabsorbed. These nutrients include glucose and amino acids and vitamins. Allot
of the sodium and water in the filtrate are reabsorbed and return to the blood.
However there are elements are secreted into the tubule along the way. Some of
the elements include metabolic wastes.
Aldosterone a hormone) assists the body to preserve or maintain the correct
sodium and water levels. ANP (atrial natriuretic peptide hormone) helps the body
get rid of excess water. By the time the filtrate enters the collecting duct, it has
been changed into urine. ADH (an antidiuretic hormone) works in the collecting
duct to regulate urine concentration.
The resulting urine passes from the renal tube through tubes called ureters and
into the bladder. The bladder is flexible and is used as storage until the urine is
allowed to pass through the urethra and out of the body.
The structure of the Kidney Nephron and Collecting duct is of such a nature that
it relates to the function it serves. Below is a table listing some of the structures
within the Kidney Nephron with a short description, structure (or composition)
and the function of the structures.

A tiny ballshaped
composed of
capillary blood

Actively involved in the
filtration of plasma. The
capillaries have pores
that prohibits passage of
blood cells. The
Basement membrane
restricts passage of large


structure that
surrounds the
catches the

A double walled epithelial

cup that surrounds the
glomerulus. The parietal
layer separate from
visceral layer by the
Bowmans space. The
outer layer consists of
podocytes cells, which
contain pedicels, filtration

The structure allows
waste products and
some water and salts
to pass from the blood
- as glucose or amino
acids, ions, peptides,
drugs and waste
products of organic
metabolism such as
creatinine and urea
Filtration in order to
eliminate organic
wastes, water and
additional inorganic


that the
could not filter

slits, slit membranes, to

prevent medium sized
proteins. Just like
interlocked fingers, these
cells interlock, allowing
thin slits amongst them.
Small elements that
filtered through the
glomerular blood vessels
passes through these slits
as they enter the space
inside Bowman's capsule.
Consists of cuboidal
epithelial cells with
microvilli that facilitates
reabsorption of water and
nutrients. The epithelium
almost fills the lumen,
and the microvilli
increases the surface
area by 30-40 fold


Longest part
of the renal
tubule - has a
tall cuboidal
epithelium, wi
th a brush

Loop of

long, Ushaped
portion of the

The cells not equipped

with tons of protein
channels to provide
passage to all sorts of
materials. They are quite
specific, mainly made up
of simple squamous
epithelium - there are no
red blood cells in the


The final
segment of
the nephron,
and it is found

Epithelial cells
are cuboidal, with very
few microvilli

Regulates the pH of
the filtrate and it is
also responsible for
secreting organic
acids, such as
creatinine and other
bases, into the filtrate.

Recovery of water and

sodium chloride from
the urine. The
descending limb, is
absorptive to water
(water moves by
osmosis here) and the
liquid reaching the
bend of the loop is
much richer than the
blood plasma in salt
and urea. The
ascending limb, water
won't slip by between
the cells, sodium
chloride diffuses out of
the tubule into the
surrounding tissue.
The last part of the
loop, effect further
removal of salt
Involved in resorbing
sodium ions, controlled
by the
hormone aldosterone.


ng duct.

in the renal
Twisting tube
that collects
urine from the
nephrons and
moves it into
the renal
pelvis and

collecting duct system is

under the control of
antidiuretic hormone

Collecting ducts unite

to drain urine
extracted by the
kidney into papillary

In conclusion, the excretory system is an important way for the human body to
remove waste. This process could be summarised in three essential steps:

Filtration blood filters through the kidneys where most of the water, ions,
urea and sugar are moved to the tubules
Selective reabsorption beneficial elements are reabsorbed back into the
blood from the tubules. The amount of water in the blood is regulated here
to maintain it at a constant rate. This is known as osmoregulation.
Excretion of waste urine (that consists of excess water, urea and ions)
are moved from the kidneys to the urinary bladder and released from the

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