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Which of the following is not a function of the urinary system:
A. Regulation of blood volume
B. Waste removal
C. Gas exchange
D. pH balance
E. All are functions of the urinary system
Anatomy of the Urinary System
The urinary system’s function is to filter blood and create urine as a waste by-product. The organs of the urinary system include the kidneys, renal pelvis, ureters, bladder and urethra.
The body takes nutrients from food and converts them to energy. After the body has taken the food components that it needs, waste products are left behind in the bowel and in the blood.
The kidney and urinary systems help the body to eliminate liquid waste called urea, and to keep chemicals, such as potassium and sodium, and water in balance. Urea is produced when foods containing protein, such as meat, poultry, and certain vegetables, are broken down in the body. Urea is carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys, where it is removed along with water and other wastes in the form of urine.
Other important functions of the kidneys include blood pressure regulation and the production of erythropoietin, which controls red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Kidneys also regulate the acid-base balance and conserve fluids.
Kidney and urinary system parts and their functions
- Two kidneys. This pair of purplish-brown organs is located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. Their function is to:
- Remove waste products and drugs from the body
- Balance the body’s fluids
- Release hormones to regulate blood pressure
- Control production of red blood cells
The kidneys remove urea from the blood through tiny filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron consists of a ball formed of small blood capillaries, called a glomerulus, and a small tube called a renal tubule. Urea, together with water and other waste substances, forms the urine as it passes through the nephrons and down the renal tubules of the kidney.
- Two ureters. These narrow tubes carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Muscles in the ureter walls continually tighten and relax forcing urine downward, away from the kidneys. If urine backs up, or is allowed to stand still, a kidney infection can develop. About every 10 to 15 seconds, small amounts of urine are emptied into the bladder from the ureters.
- Bladder. This triangle-shaped, hollow organ is located in the lower abdomen. It is held in place by ligaments that are attached to other organs and the pelvic bones. The bladder’s walls relax and expand to store urine, and contract and flatten to empty urine through the urethra. The typical healthy adult bladder can store up to two cups of urine for two to five hours.Upon examination, specific “landmarks” are used to describe the location of any irregularities in the bladder. These are:
- Trigone: a triangle-shaped region near the junction of the urethra and the bladder
- Right and left lateral walls: walls on either side of the trigone
- Posterior wall: back wall
- Dome: roof of the bladder
Renal System Functions
The renal system has many functions. Many of these functions are interrelated with the physiological mechanisms in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
- Removal of metabolic waste products from the body (mainly urea and uric acid).
- Regulation of electrolyte balance (e.g., sodium, potassium, and calcium).
- Osmoregulation controls the blood volume and body water contents.
- Blood pressure homeostasis: The renal system alters water retention and thirst to slowly change blood volume and keep blood pressure in a normal range.
- Regulation of acid-base homeostasis and blood pH, a function shared with the respiratory system.
Many of these functions are related to one another as well. For example, water follows ions via an osmotic gradient, so mechanisms that alter sodium levels or sodium retention in the renal system will alter water retention levels as well.
Organs of the Renal System
Kidneys and Nephrons
Kidneys are the most complex and critical part of the urinary system. The primary function of the kidneys is to maintain a stable internal environment (homeostasis) for optimal cell and tissue metabolism. The kidneys have an extensive blood supply from the renal arteries that leave the kidneys via the renal vein.
Nephrons are the main functional component inside the parenchyma of the kidneys, which filter blood to remove urea, a waste product formed by the oxidation of proteins, as well as ions like potassium and sodium. The nephrons are made up of a capsule capillaries (the glomerulus) and a small renal tube.
The renal tube of the nephron consists of a network of tubules and loops that are selectively permeable to water and ions. Many hormones involved in homeostasis will alter the permeability of these tubules to change the amount of water that is retained by the body.
Urine passes from the renal tube through tubes called ureters and into the bladder.
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The bladder is flexible and is used as storage until the urine is allowed to pass through the urethra and out of the body.
The female and male renal system are very similar, differing only in the length of the urethra.
The kidneys play a very large role in human osmoregulation by regulating the amount of water reabsorbed from the glomerular filtrate in kidney tubules, which is controlled by hormones such as antidiuretic hormone (ADH), renin, aldosterone, and angiotensin I and II.
A basic example is that a decrease in water concentration of blood is detected by osmoreceptors in the hypothalamus, which stimulates ADH release from the pituitary gland to increase the permeability of the wall of the collecting ducts and tubules in the nephrons. Therefore, a large proportion of water is reabsorbed from fluid to prevent a fair proportion of water from being excreted.
The extent of blood volume and blood pressure regulation facilitated by the kidneys is a complex process. Besides ADH secretion, the renin-angiotensin feedback system is critically important to maintain blood volume and blood pressure homeostasis.