Chronic kidney disease

Kidney failure - chronic; Renal failure - chronic; Chronic renal insufficiency; Chronic kidney failure; Chronic renal failure

Chronic kidney disease is the slow loss of kidney function over time. The main job of the kidneys is to remove wastes and excess water from the body.


The urinary system has four main components: the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. Urine, a liquid waste product, is formed in the kidneys. From there it moves through the ureters and into the bladder, where it is stored. When the bladder gets full, urine is emptied from the body through the urethra in a process called urination. The creation of urine is far more complex than you might think. The kidneys filter waste from the blood that passes through them, and reabsorb substances that the body requires, even though those requirements may change from moment to moment. The outer portion of each of the kidneys is the cortex, while the inner portion is called the medulla. Each of the kidneys is composed of approximately one million subunits called nephrons. Each nephron consists of a microscopic ball of blood vessels called a glomerulus, which is connected to a twisting length of tube called the renal tubule. Because the blood vessels in the glomeruli are porous, they act as filters, removing most of the water, salt, and waste from the blood that passes through them. As filters, the glomeruli have physical properties that prevent large cells, like red blood cells, from passing into the renal tubules. On the other hand, smaller particles, like sugar and salt, can pass easily through the glomerulus. It is in the renal tubule that waste products are passed into the urine. Substances the body needs, like water and salt, are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream at the same time. The path of urine formation, reabsorption, and excretion begins at the glomerulus, continues through the renal tubules, and proceeds to the ureter. For the most part, urine moves from the outer cortex of the kidneys to the inner medullary region. Urine then proceeds down the ureters and into the bladder. Here you can see a cut-section of the bladder. The unique, expandable cells in the wall of the bladder stretch and become thinner as it fills. Finally, urine is excreted through the urethra.

Kidney anatomy

The kidneys are responsible for removing wastes from the body, regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, and the stimulation of red blood cell production.

Kidney - blood and urine flow

This is the typical appearance of the blood vessels (vasculature) and urine flow pattern in the kidney. The blood vessels are shown in red and the urine flow pattern in yellow.

Glomerulus and nephron

The kidneys remove excess fluid and waste from your body. Blood is filtered in the kidneys through nephrons. Each nephron contains a network of small blood vessels, called glomerulus, which are enclosed in a sac called Bowman's capsule. The filtered waste product (urine) flows through tiny tubes and is then passed from the kidneys to the bladder through bigger tubes called ureters.



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Outlook (Prognosis)

Possible Complications