Kidney Failure

What are the kidneys? (Continued)

When blood flows to the kidney, sensors within the kidney decide 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.

After the kidneys filter blood, the urine is excreted through the ureter, a thin tube that connects it to the bladder. It is then stored in the bladder awaiting urination, when the bladder sends the urine out of the body through the urethra.

Reviewed on 7/14/2014