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Kidney

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The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found on the left and right sides of the body in vertebrates. They are located at the back of the abdominal cavity in the retroperitoneal space. In adults they are about 11 centimetres (4.3 in) in length. They receive blood from the paired renal arteries; blood exits into the paired renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.

The nephron is the structural and functional unit of the kidney. Each adult kidney contains around one million nephrons. The nephron utilizes four processes to alter the blood plasma which flows to it: filtration, reabsorption, secretion, and excretion. Via one or more of these mechanisms, the kidney participates in the control of the volume of various body fluid compartments, fluid osmolality, acid-base balance, various electrolyte concentrations, and removal of toxins. Filtration occurs in the glomerulus: one-fifth of the blood volume that enters the kidneys is filtered. Examples of substances reabsorbed are solute-free water, sodium, bicarbonate, glucose, and amino acids. Examples of substances secreted are hydrogen, ammonium, potassium and uric acid. The kidneys also carry out functions independent of the nephron. For example, they convert a precursor of vitamin D to its active form – calcitriol – and synthesize the hormones erythropoietin and renin.

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