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Human Kidneys

What is a Kidney?

In humans, the kidneys are two small organs located near the vertebral column at the small of the back. The left kidney lies a little higher than the right kidney. They are bean-shaped, about 4 in. (10 cm) long and about 21/2 in. (6.4 cm) wide.

What is the kidney's major function?

The kidneys have a couple of different functions. The main purpose of the kidney is to separate urea, mineral salts, toxins, and other waste products from the blood. The kidneys also conserve water, salts, and electrolytes. At least one kidney must function properly for life to be maintained.

Kidneys for sale?

It is illegal to sell your kidney in the United States, but that won't stop some from trying to find a way to do it.

In 2010 researchers from the University of Pennsylvania asked 342 randomly sampled Philadelphians on their morning commute about being a kidney donor.

Researchers found several surprising trends among who would donate and why. For instance, those living below the poverty line were nearly twice as likely to report that they would give up their kidney to a stranger than those who make $100,000 plus a year.

Diseases and Conditions of the Kidney

Some of the most common kidney diseases and conditions are: polycystic kidney disease, nephrosis, lupus nephritis, diabetic nephropathy, rhabdomyolysis, kidney stones, and renal tubular acidosis.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disease characterized by the growth of numerous cysts filled with fluid in the kidneys.

Nephrosis is a kidney disease characterized by lesions of the epithelial lining of the renal tubules. The lesions cause a disturbance in the filtration function of the kidney. As a result, large amounts of protein is found in the urine.

Lupus nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a disease of the immune system.

Diabetic Nephropathy is a kidney condition that occurs only in people with diabetes mellitus. It results in progressive damage to the small filtering units of the kidney (glomeruli). About 20-30% of people with diabetes develop diabetic nephropathy.

Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease caused by inflammation of the internal kidney structures.

Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney and the ureters.

Rhabdomyolysis is a disorder involving injury to the kidney. It has been linked to the drug crestor.

A kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. Kidney stones occur in roughly one in 10 people in the United States. Once a person gets more than one stone, others are likely to develop.

Renal tubular acidosis (RTA) is a disease that occurs when the kidneys fail to excrete acids into the urine, which causes a person's blood to remain too acidic.

Location of the Kidney

To look at the kidney in relation to other organs in the body, visit the digestive system

Kidneys and Diabetes

Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, accounting for more than 40 percent of new cases. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major factor in the development of kidney problems in people with diabetes.

 

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