Anatomy of the abdominal viscera: Kidneys, ureters and suprarenal glands

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Looking to learn about the kidneys and their associated organs? Well, “urine” the right place! The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped abdominal organs, which filter metabolic waste out of the blood in the form of urine.

The urine then gets funneled into the urinary bladder by the ureters. Sitting on top of the kidneys, there are the suprarenal glands or adrenal glands.

These glands function as a part of the endocrine system by secreting adrenal hormones, which regulate various functions of the body.

Let's begin with the kidneys, which are retroperitoneal organs, meaning they lie posterior to the peritoneum. They lie on the posterior abdominal wall, at the level of the T12 to L3 vertebrae, on both the right and the left sides of the vertebral column.

The right kidney sits slightly lower than the left one, which helps make space to accommodate the large size of the liver located on that side of the abdomen.

Now, positioned superior to both kidneys are the suprarenal glands, but they also have a number of different relationships with surrounding organs.

Anterior to the left kidney is the spleen, stomach, pancreas, left colic flexure, and jejunum, while the liver, duodenum, right colic flexure and ascending colon lie anterior to the right kidney. The right kidney and liver are separated by the hepatorenal recess, also known as Morisons pouch.

Posteriorly, both kidneys are associated with the diaphragm, the psoas major, quadratus lumborum and transversus abdominis muscles as well as the subcostal nerve and vessels, and the iliohypogastric and ilioinguinal nerves.


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