Human Anatomy – Kidneys
- Human Anatomy – Tonsils
- Human Anatomy – Teeth
- Human Anatomy – Stomach
- Human Anatomy – Tongue
- Human Anatomy – Esophagus
- Human Anatomy – Liver
- Human Anatomy – Gallbladder
- Human Anatomy – Spleen
- Human Anatomy – Pancreas
- Human Anatomy – Appendix
- Human Anatomy – Intestines
- Human Anatomy – Colon
- Human Anatomy – Abdomen
- Human Anatomy – Penis
- Human Anatomy – Bladder
- Human Anatomy – Kidneys
- Human Anatomy – Prostate
- Human Anatomy – Vagina
- Human Anatomy – Heart
- Human Anatomy – Skin
- Human Anatomy – Aorta
- Human Anatomy – Thyroid
- Human Anatomy – Lungs
- Human Anatomy – Brain
- Human Anatomy – Eyes
- Human Anatomy – Ears
- Human Anatomy – Sinuses
- Human Anatomy – Trachea
- Human Anatomy – Blood
- Human Anatomy – Rotator Cuff
- Human Anatomy – Shoulder
- Human Anatomy – Feet
- Human Anatomy – Hair
- Human Anatomy – Achilles Tendon
Blood is filtered through the kidneys, two bean-like organs situated behind the abdomen. They are made up of thousands of microscopic nephrons, cells which rid the blood of impurities and wastes. All the blood in the body goes through the kidneys.
While filtering blood, the kidneys simultaneously form urine. It accumulates in the pelvis, hollow structures in the kidney that connect to the ureters, which in turn connect to the bladder.
Measuring only up to 5 inches long each, about as large as your fists, the kidneys maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Your healthy lifestyle – if not your whole life – truly depends on these two small organs.
Kidney conditions and diseases
Among the most excruciating conditions these organs ever have to contend with are kidney stones. Known as nephrolithiasis, this condition occurs when minerals from urine gather together to create the crystalline stones. Small kidney stones go away on their own, but the large ones need medical attention because they hamper urine flow.
What you really need to fear is renal or kidney failure, which may either be acute or chronic. Diabetes and high blood pressure are known to cause chronic renal failure, in which patients permanently lose part of their kidney function.
At worst, your kidneys would stop functioning completely. This condition is known as end stage renal disease (ESRD), wherein you would rely solely on dialysis just to survive.
Acute renal failure is more temporary in comparison, but sudden. All but a blocked urinary tract or dehydration can cause this condition.
Acute kidney failure may also stem from other conditions, such as interstitial nephritis, in turn caused by allergies and certain drugs. Interstitial nephritis occurs because the kidney’s connective tissue becomes inflamed.
Yet another kidney condition to be wary of is renal cell carcinoma, most commonly known as kidney cancer. Smokers are extremely susceptible to this cancer.
Other conditions to guard against:
- Papillary necrosis. Kidney damage becomes so serious that tissues disintegrate from the organ, obstructing blood flow. It can lead to chronic kidney failure when left untreated.
- Pyelonephritis. Bacteria, usually originating from an infected bladder, swarm in the pelvis. Fever and back pain are symptoms.
- Glomerulonephritis. Kidney becomes inflamed because of an overly active immune system, eventually resulting in kidney failure. Symptoms include blood in the urine.
- Nephrotic syndrome. Due to damage, the kidney releases more protein than normal into the urine. Edema then ensues, a condition wherein the legs swell. One type of nephrotic syndrome, called minimal change disease, happens when the nephrons look normal but symptoms tell otherwise.
- Diabetes insipidus. Kidney cannot concentrate the urine anymore due to certain drugs. Symptoms include frequent thirst and persistent urination.
- Polycystic kidney. Often hereditary, this disease causes cysts to appear in the kidneys.
- Renal cysts. Hollow spaces in the kidney. They are usually benign and do not pose any danger to kidney function.
Treating kidney conditions
People who suffer from complete renal failure or ESRD can revive organ function via a kidney transplant. The kidney may either be sourced from a living or recently deceased donor. Otherwise, the doctor would recommend dialysis, blood filtering through artificial means.
Hemodialysis is by all accounts the most popular way of dialysis. In this method, the blood of the patient is filtered through a dialysis machine, which sends it back to the body. This procedure is usually done thrice a week.
Alternatively, the patient may try peritoneal dialysis, wherein a special fluid is siphoned in large amounts into the abdomen. The abdomen is apparently lined by a membrane with the ability to filter blood. After the membrane filters the blood, the resultant wastes are disposed with the fluid.
If the culprit in the kidney is a bacterium, antibiotics are in order. The doctor chooses the antibiotics based on the results of the blood or urine culture.
For kidney stones, the doctor may apply lithotripsy. A device bombards the body with ultrasound waves, dashing the stones into pieces small enough to come out with the urine.
For kidney cancer patients, nephrectomy (surgical kidney removal) is often recommended.
For blocked urine flow, nephrostomy may be the treatment of choice. This refers to the draining of urine directly from the kidney through a catheter inserted into the back of the patient.
For minimal change disease, steroids are in order.
Tests for kidney conditions
Urinalysis is almost always done to diagnose kidney damage, infections, bleedings or inflammations. But a kidney ultrasound can more accurately identify kidney stones, cysts and anomalous masses.
Doctors request for a urine or blood culture if they suspect a bacterial infection. The results of the culture would determine the best antibiotic therapy for the patient.
In ureteroscopy, a flexible tube with a microscopic camera on its tip – an endoscope – is introduced into the urethra, towards the bladder, up until the ureters. However, the endoscope cannot reach the kidneys.
Since the endoscope cannot reach them, the doctor may remove a sample of kidney tissue for microscopic examination. This process, called a kidney biopsy, is done by inserting a special needle into the patient’s back.
A CT scan (computed tomography) is a more noninvasive way of getting detailed images of the kidneys. Similarly, an MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) can offer high-resolution images of the organs.