Understanding the kidneys
One of the major organs in the human body is the kidney. Both kidneys, for those who
have them, and a single kidney performs several physiological functions that help in retaining the
body at normalcy. Anatomically, each kidney is located on the right and left of the backbone,
attached to the upper back wall of the abdomen and just below the rib cage. Superior to the
kidneys is the adrenal gland, which rests above each kidney. A fibrous layer called the Gerota’s
fascia surrounds these two kidneys and the adrenal glands (Lote, 2012).
The primary function of the kidney is the filtration of blood that is supplied to it through
the renal arteries. This aids in the regulation of the water and electrolytes to remain in balance.
The filtration is done to remove the excess water, salts as well as other waste products, including,
urea, creatinine, uric acid in the form of urine. The urine is injurious to health if it continues to
stay in the body. Therefore, urine is passed out of the kidneys through the ureters located at the
renal pelvis and into a temporary storage known as the urinary bladder. Finally, the urine
ultimately gets out of the body through to the urethra (Lote, 2012).
There are other functions of the kidney. It regulates blood pressure through the activation
of the renin-angiotensin system, aided by the hormone renin, which it produces. The kidneys are
also crucial in the erythropoiesis through the hormone erythropoietin, which works hand in hand
with the bone marrow in the production of the red blood cells. The kidneys also produce the
calcitriol, which is the active form of vitamin D. gluconeogenesis is another process that the
kidney is involved. The other function the kidney takes part in is the regulation of the balance
between the acid and base. The kidney can do this through the nephrons as well as the collecting