Description of Kidney as an Organ Abstract


Descriptionof Kidney as an Organ


Kidneysare small organs found in the body, but the role that they playcannot be undermined. Most individuals have two kidneys, which arefound on either side of the spine below the ribs. Kidneys can lead tolife-threatening conditions if not taken care of. They contributetowards the overall health of a person and are involved in theremoval of waste products in the body as well as filtering excessfluids found in the blood (Mitch &amp Ikizler, 2010). The wastescomprise of what is left in the blood from the food utilized by thebody and the body’s different functions. Part of the wastes becomespassed out in urine that flows down the drainage tubes into thebladder. It is not possible for humans to live without kidneys sincethey take a critical role in osmoregulation. Kidneys should beprotected from diseases just like other organs because diseases canlead to the failure of the kidney, which may even result to death.Because of the important functions that they perform, it is crucialto understand their structure and the roles of each and every part.Therefore, this paper will explain the structure of the kidneys,functions, as well as the diseases that affect the organ.


Kidneysare bean-shaped and are located above the waistline. They have a sizeequal to a closed fist. However, the kidney on the right side islocated in a higher position than the one on the left side due to thelocation of the liver on the left side (Mitch &amp Ikizler, 2010).They are surrounded by a layer of fats that protects them frominjury. Also, the muscles which are attached to the backbone and theabdomen offer protection to the kidneys. Many organs in the bodydepend on the health status of the kidneys for their properfunctioning. This implies that when one or both kidneys get damagedthere are chances that some organs in the body might be damaged aswell. Nevertheless, there is no cause for alarm because with modernadvancement in technology, it is easy to diagnose any kidney diseaseduring its early stages.

Anormal kidney consists of the following parts the renal vein,medullar pyramids, medulla, nephron, renal artery, ureter, calyx,cortex, renal pelvis, and renal capsule. Renal vein takes filteredblood away from the kidneys and empties it into the inferior venacava. Medullar pyramids consist of the collecting ducts which make upthe inner part of the kidneys while the medulla makes up part of theinterior of the kidney which contains at least eight renal pyramidsand at most twelve. Nephrons are where the filtration takes place.Renal artery is made up of the parts of the aorta that takes bloodwhich contains waste into the kidney for filtration while otherarteries nurture the kidney cells. The ureter is the part whichcollects waste materials and urine and delivers them to the bladderfor removal from the body system through urination. Calyx is part ofthe renal pelvis (extension) and its primary function is to takeurine from the pyramids to the renal pelvis. The outer region of thekidney is the one that is referred to as the cortex. The cortex ismade up of many nephrons that are approximately a million. Renalpelvis resembles a basin and its function is to accumulate urine inthe nephrons and empty it into the ureter. The outer membrane of thekidney is called the renal capsule which is tough and fibrous. Anephron is made of two parts which are the renal corpuscle and renaltubule whereby the renal corpuscle has the glomerulus, Bowman’scapsule, and clump capillaries (Mitch &amp Ikizler, 2010). Renaltubule consists of the proximal convoluted tubule and proximalstraight tubule. The loop of Henle is made of the proximal straighttubule, thick ascending limb, and thin limb.

Howthe Kidneys Work

Kidneyswork through nephrons that filter the blood. Nephrons filter theblood using glomerulus that acts as the filters and tubules. The workof glomerulus is to sieve the fluid and waste products however, inthe process glomerulus prevents proteins and blood cells from beingsieved. Afterward, the filtrate passes through the tubule whichremoves the waste and detects whether any minerals should be sentback to the blood stream. Waste is excreted from the body in the formof urine. Furthermore, if both kidneys are working correctly, theyare supposed to produce between one and two quarts of urine fromabout one 120 to 150 quarts of blood. Urine contains the wastestogether with the extra fluid. Then, the urine produced is removed bythe kidneys and is emptied into the bladder where it is storedtemporarily for a maximum of eight hours. The urine gets to thebladder through the ureters and is later removed through urination.

Kidneysas an organ can be damaged by diseases which when not detected andtreated during early stages can lead to death. Kidney diseases arehandled by a nephrologist or an urologist. The following paragraphsdiscuss some of the diseases that affect the kidneys.


Inthis disease, the glomeruli become inflamed. Nephritis has differentcauses and has the potential of leading to kidney failure in case itis left untreated. Nephritis may be of different types. One of thenephritis is the interstitial, where the space amid the kidneytubules becomes inflamed. Interstitial nephritis usually results froman allergic reaction to antibiotic or medication. The inflammationmakes the kidneys swell. Another form is the pyelonephritis, which isan inflammation of the kidney resulting from a bacterial infection.Apart from bacterial infection, surgery of the kidneys, bladder, orureters and kidney stones may cause pyelonephritis.


Hydronephrosisentails a condition that means the presence of excess water in thekidneys that is as a result of blocked urine flow. In this case, oneor both kidneys are stretched and swollen because of the urinebuild-up inside them. This condition can affect individuals of anyage and may sometimes become spotted in the unborn babies duringroutine pregnancy. The condition does not cause long-term problems incase it is diagnosed and becomes treated early. In severe cases, thecondition may result in kidney failure.


Thisis a condition that results when kidneys do not get an adequatesupply of blood. This condition is caused by the narrowing of thearteries that deliver blood to kidneys (Lifton, 2009). When thekidneys get low blood flow, they behave as if the low flow emanatesfrom dehydration. Thus, they respond by releasing hormones whichstimulate the body to hold sodium and water. The narrowing of therenal arteries is commonly caused by atherosclerosis.


Kidneystones are also a disease which can affect the kidneys or any part ofthe urinary tract. This is a condition, where small, hard mineraldeposits form inside the kidneys. These stones are usually made ofminerals and acid salts (Lifton, 2009). Kidney stones usually formwhen the urine becomes concentrated a move that allows thecrystallization and sticking together of minerals. The passing of thekidney stones is painful, but in most cases the stones cause nopermanent damage. Drinking a lot of water can help in the passage ofthe kidney stones. Other ailments that can threaten the health ofkidneys are kidney failure, tumors, and cancer.

Causesof Kidney Damage

Diabetesis a major cause of kidney damages. Diabetes is a condition wherebythe body is unable to produce adequate insulin which is used inprocessing sugar in the body. The high levels of unprocessed sugar inthe body cause problems to the kidneys as well as other parts of thebody. High blood pressure is also highly linked to kidney diseasesand other diseases like stroke and heart failures. Keeping bloodpressure in a healthy check goes a long way in preventing kidneydiseases. Furthermore, excessive use of drugs and other toxins isassociated with kidney diseases. Consumption of over-the-counterdrugs such as painkillers for a long duration can harm the kidneys.Also, drugs such as heroin and crack can destroy the kidneys.Sometimes, when the urinary tract is infected, the infections arelikely to spread and affect the kidneys. Finally, congenital diseaseswhich children are born with can also cause kidney disease or renalfailure.

Howto Boost Kidneys Health

Stayinghydrated will help in boosting the health status of the kidneys. Kidneys require an adequate amount of water to work well and be ableto eliminate toxins from the body. Eating a lot of fruits anddifferent types of vegetables and avoiding excessive use of alcoholicdrinks can assist in keeping the body hydrated (Hunt, 2011).Furthermore, intake of diets those are low in fat and salt aids inboosting kidney health. Vitamins are also important as far as kidneyhealth is considered. A vitamin-like folic acid facilitates inminimizing the levels homocysteine that is connected to disease ofthe kidneys, heart diseases or even stroke (Lifton, 2009). Theimportance of regular physical exercises cannot be undermined when itcomes to the matters of kidney health. Frequent exercising will helpin improving the health of kidneys as well as other organs like theheart and lungs. Exercises will also keep blood pressure in checkwhich will help in preventing kidney damages as a result of highblood pressure.

Functionof the Kidneys

Themain role of the kidneys is eliminating waste materials and excessfluids from the body. This process aids in maintaining a constantchemical equilibrium in the bodies. Kidneys also control the osmoticpressure of the fluids in the body through excretion of osmoticallyconcentrated or dilute urine. They further regulate arterial bloodpressure through the alteration of sodium ions and production reninwhich has an effect on blood pressure. Kidneys standardize theconcentrations of sodium ions, chloride ions, potassium ions,magnesium ions, bicarbonate ions, and calcium ions in the bloodplasma. They control acid-base balance in the body by releasinghydrogen ions when acidity is higher than normal and hydrogencarbonate ions when the base concentration is high. Furthermore,kidneys remove waste materials of metabolism such as creatinine, uricacid, and urea. Moreover, kidneys eradicate any foreign toxins suchas drugs from the body. Kidneys are the major sites of production ofspecific hormones in the body such as erythropoietin and vitamin D3.They are also involved in the degradation of some polypeptidehormones like parathyroid and insulin. Ammonia is synthesized in thekidneys and it helps in maintaining acid-base balance in the body.Kidneys regulate blood pressure in the body. Hypertension can be asign of poor health of the kidneys in a person.


Tosum up, kidneys are small organs in the body which takes the shape ofa bean and whose size is like that of a closed fist, but the rolethat they play in the well being of a person cannot be undermined.Any conditions that can damage the kidneys should be considered aslife-threatening conditions and treatment procedures should beinitiated promptly. Kidneys are made of several parts that worktogether in the process of homeostasis. Kidneys as organs can bedamaged by diseases such as kidney stones, renal failure, cancer,kidney tumors, among other diseases. However, people can stayhydrated and take in vitamin supplements such as folic acid tominimize the risks of getting kidney diseases. Kidneys areresponsible for functions such as regulating osmotic pressure,production of certain hormones, elimination of waste material andexcess fluids in the body. However, the overall functions of kidneyscan be summarized as maintaining a stable chemical condition in thebody, failure to which body processes can become unstable and lead todeath. Therefore, kidneys as an organ can be considered to beexceedingly important in carrying out the body processes.


Hunt,W. A. (2011). Kidneydisease: A guide for living.Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lifton,R. P. (2009). Geneticdiseases of the kidney.Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press

Mitch,W. E., &amp Ikizler, T. A. (2010). Handbookof nutrition and the kidney.Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott William &amp Wilkins.