Kidney Failure

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

What are the kidneys? (Continued)

When blood flows to the kidney, sensors within specialized kidney cells regulate how much water to excrete as urine, along with what concentration of electrolytes. For example, if a person is dehydrated from exercise or from an illness, the kidneys will hold onto as much water as possible and the urine becomes very concentrated. When adequate water is present in the body, the urine is much more dilute, and the urine becomes clear. This system is controlled by renin, a hormone produced in the kidney that is part of the fluid and blood pressure regulation systems of the body.

Kidneys are also the source of erythropoietin in the body, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells. Special cells in the kidney monitor the oxygen concentration in blood. If oxygen levels fall, erythropoietin levels rise and the body starts to manufacture more red blood cells.

Urine that is made by each kidney flows through the ureter, a tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. Urine is stored within the bladder, and when urination occurs, the bladder empties urine through a tube called the urethra.

Reviewed on 1/23/2015
References
REFERENCE:

Longo DL, et al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th edition. McGraw Hill Professional. 2011.

Medscape. Renal Failure, Acute.

NIH. Amyloidosis and Kidney Disease. IMAGES:

1.iStock

2.iStock

3.iStock

4.Veer

5.Veer

6.MedicineNet

7.Bigstock

8.Bigstock

9.iStock

10.iStock

11.National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

12.iStock

13.iStock

14.iStock

15.N/A

Kidney Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Kidney Failure - Symptoms

    The symptoms of kidney failure can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

    Post View 42 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Treatment

    What kinds of treatment did you or a relative receive for kidney failure?

    Post View 20 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Diet

    What changes have you made to your diet since you were diagnosed with kidney failure?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Diagnosis

    Describe the events and tests that led to a diagnosis of kidney failure.

    Post View 5 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Dialysis

    What is it like to receive dialysis? Please share your experience.

    Post View 3 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors