The kidney & ureters
The kidneys are bean shaped organs which are about the size of a fist. One kidney is on each side of the spine, near the middle of the back and just below the ribcage (flank). The ureters are tubes which connect the kidneys to the bladder and transport the urine produced by the kidney to the bladder for storage.
The kidneys perform many functions to keep the blood clean and chemically balanced. They do this by processing blood to remove waste products and excess water that become urine. As well as removing waste products the kidneys also release three important hormones:
- Erythropoietin - stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells
- Renin - regulates blood pressure
- Calcitriol - the active form of vitamin D, which helps maintain calcium for bones and for normal chemical balance in the body