Renal External Anatomy | Kidney

Author: Scott A. Sheffield MS

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  • The kidneys are paired, bean-shaped organs that are image descriptionlocated behind the abdominal peritoneum, along with the posterior body wall. Due to the size of the liver, the right kidney is somewhat lower than the left kidney.
Anterior view of the male human body.
Anterior view of the male body with the kidneys labeled
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  • Covering the surface of each kidney is a tough, semi-transparent, connective tissue membrane called the renal capsule. This layer also forms a barrier that protects the kidney from infection. Covering the surface of each kidney is a tough, semi-transparent, connective tissue membrane called the image descriptionrenal capsule. This layer also forms a barrier that protects the kidney from infection.

Continue learning about the kidneys with this urinary system revision guide. 

Anterior view on the right and left kidney.
Anterior view of the kidneys with the renal capsule labeled.
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Anterior view on the right and left kidney.
Anterior view of the kidneys with the descending abdominal aorta labeled.
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  • The renal artery enters the kidney at the image description hilum (or hilus), an indented region along the medial border.
  • image description Inside the kidney, the renal artery splits into several smaller arteries, which disperse oxygenated blood throughout the organ.
Anterior view on the right and left kidney.
Anterior view of the kidneys with the renal hilum labeled.
Anterior view of the kidneys with the left kidney cross-sectioned and the renal hilum labeled.
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  • Also passing through the hilum are the image descriptionrenal vein and image descriptionureter. The renal vein transports blood from kidney to the image descriptioninferior vena cava, and the ureter conducts urine from the tubular system of the kidney to the urinary bladder.
Anterior view of the kidneys with the left kidney being cross-sectioned.
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Test Yourself:

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Test yourself image for the anterior view of the kidneys with the left kidney showing a cross-section, answers hidden.
Test yourself image for the anterior view of the kidneys with the left kidney showing a cross-section, answers shown.
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