The kidneys are the functional unit of the urinary system. Within the kidneys, millions of nephrons maintain body water, salt, and pH balance and eliminate solutes from the blood. The kidneys accomplish these functions by filtering blood plasma into urine, which is eliminated from the body via the ureters, bladder, and urethra. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located adjacent to the vertebrae at the T12-L2 vertebral level. The right kidney is slightly lower than the left rib because of the presence of the liver. The ureter, bladder, and kidney are all retroperitoneally positioned. Perirenal fat surrounds and thus cushions the kidneys (Figure 11-5).
Vascular supply. Renal arteries supply blood to the kidney; renal veins drain blood from the kidneys.
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