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B io Factsheet Number 150
Answering Exam Questions on the Kidney
This Factsheet is aimed at those students who want to get full marks on kidney questions. If you are unsure of basic kidney structure or function, please
read Factsheet No. 1 first!
When answering exam questions on the kidney you must know the basic The functions of the kidneys are to:
anatomy of the kidney, the mechanics of urine formation and the control of · remove toxic metabolic waste products (for example, urea, uric
urine formation. When you know and understand the basic knowledge, acid, ammonia, H+, HCO3-) from the blood, for excretion
you will be able to interpret and analyse more complicated data
interpretation questions. · regulate the blood pH, blood water and salt content, blood osmotic
pressure, blood pressure and blood volume. This is homeostasis.
Students are often asked to `state the functions of the kidneys'. A common
answer is `the kidneys produce urine which is excreted from the body'.
This is not an adequate answer, because, although the kidneys produce
Urine is produced as an incidental result of these activities.
urine, this is not their function but a consequence of their functions.
Fig 1. Ventral view of the urinary system
Posterior vena cava Dorsal aorta
Right kidney Left kidney
Renal arteries Renal veins
Urinary bladder
Sphincter muscle
When labelling diagrams of the urinary system, several errors frequently occur. For example:-
· When labelling the kidneys, left and right get mixed up ­ always note · Ureters and urethra are frequently confused. The urethra drains the
whether the diagram is a dorsal or a ventral view. If it is ventral, the right bladder to the outside, ureters drain the kidneys to the bladder. `Ureter'
kidney will be on your right when you are facing the diagram. Note that and `urethra' should not be confused with the term `uterus'.
the right kidney is a bit above the left kidney (which is displaced
backwards by the liver). If dorsal or ventral are not specified, assume Remember that each kidney contains thousands of nephrons. A nephron is
the view is ventral ­ this is a standard biological convention. a single working unit of the kidney.
· The posterior vena cava and aorta are frequently labelled the wrong
way round - as a consequence so are the renal arteries and veins.
Remember, in a ventral view the aorta is on the right of the diagram.

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Answering Exam Questions on the Kidney Bio Factsheet
Diagram of a nephron
Afferent arteriole Efferent arteriole
Bowman's/ renal capsule Second/distal convoluted tubule
Efferent venule
First/proximal convoluted
Collecting duct
Descending limb of loop of Henle
Collecting capillaries (vasa recti)
Ascending limb of loop of Henle
When labelling diagrams of the nephron certain errors are often made.…read more

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Answering Exam Questions on the Kidney Bio Factsheet
Formation of glomerular filtrate
Always refer to the nature of the renal capsule and glomerular membranes, * The raised glomerular blood pressure causes ultrafiltration.…read more

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Answering Exam Questions on the Kidney Bio Factsheet…read more


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