Understanding your Kidneys

a doctor listening to a set of kidneys giving a thumbs up

All the blood in our body passes through the kidneys several times a day.

a pair of kidneys in a see through lady

Kineys are a pair of fist size organs located in the back of the abdomen.

a healthy kidney excercise

Kidney Function

  1. Filters the Blood
  2. Removes Waste
  3. Controls the body's Fluid Balance
  4. Regulates the balance of Electrolytes.
image of the urinary tract and kidneys

Kidneys Create Urine as they Filter Blood

Each kidney contains around a million called nephrons (a microscopic filter for blood).

a cross section of a kidney nephron

It's possible to lose as much as 90% of kidney function without experiencing any symptoms

Kidney Conditions

Please click Images for additional information

a kidney with a giant rinal cyst on the side of it

Renal Cyst

A benign hollowed-out space in the kidney. Isolated kidney cysts occur in many normal people and almost never impair kidney function.

image of a kidney that has pyelonephritis


Bacteria may infect the kidney, usually causing back pain and fever. A spread of bacteria from an untreated bladder infection is the most common cause of pyelonephritis.

image of a kidney that has glomerulonephritis


Overactive immune system may attack the kidney, causing inflammation and damage. May also result in kidney failure. Blood and protein in the urine are common problems that occur.

a picture of kidney stones next to a ruler

Kidney Stones

Minerals in urine form crystals (stones), which may grow large enough to block urine flow. It's considered one of the most painful conditions. Most kidney stones pass on their own but some are too large and need to be treated.

a picture of a little girls swollen face from having nephrotic syndrome

Nephrotic Syndrome

Damage to the kidneys causes them to spill large amounts of protein into the urine. Leg swelling (edema) may be a symptom.

a picture of a kidney organ that has polycystic kidney disease next to a football

Polycystic Kidney Disease

A genetic condition resulting in large cysts in both kidneys that impair their function.

cross section of a kidney suffering from acute renal failure

Acute Renal Failure

A sudden worsening in kidney function. Dehydration, a blockage in the urinary tract, or kidney damage can cause acute renal failure, which may be reversible.

a pair of chronic renal failure kidneys sitting next to a normal kidney

Chronic Renal Failure

A permanent partial loss of kidney function. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes.

a end stage renal disease kidney picture next to a normal kidney picture

End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Complete loss of kidney function, usually due to progressive chronic kidney disease. People with ESRD require regular dialysis for survival.

a picture of a kidney with papillary nercosis

Papillary Necrosis

Severe damage to the kidneys can cause chunks of kidney tissue to break off internally and clog the kidneys. If untreated, the resulting damage can lead to total kidney failure.

a kidney from a diabetic suffering from diabetic nephropathy

Diabetic Nephropathy

High blood sugar from diabetes progressively damages the kidneys, eventually causing chronic kidney disease. Protein in the urine (nephrotic syndrome) may also result.

showing the side effect of hypertensive nephropathy where the feet swell

Hypertensive Nephropathy

Kidney damage caused by high blood pressure. Chronic renal failure may eventually result.

a depiction of the surgical procedure for treating kidney cancer

Kidney Cancer

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer affecting the kidney. Smoking is the most common cause of kidney cancer.

picture of a patients legs that has a rash from interstitial nephritits

Interstitial Nephritis

Inflammation of the connective tissue inside the kidney, often causing acute renal failure. Allergic reactions and drug side effects are the usual causes.

a normal capillary beside a capillary infected with minimal change disease

Minimal Change Disease

A form of nephrotic syndrome in which kidney cells look almost normal under the microscope. The disease can cause significant leg swelling (edema). Steroids are used to treat minimal change disease.

a person drinking water looking very thirsty

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus

The kidneys lose the ability to concentrate the urine, usually due to a drug reaction. Although it's rarely dangerous, diabetes insipidus causes constant thirst and frequent urination.

two gloved hands peices back a kidney puzzle using medical pliers




a diagram of sound waves hitting a kidney stone in the kidney a kidney stone being shattered by a lithotripsy treatment

Some kidney stones may be shattered into small pieces done by a machine that projects ultrasound shock waves through the body.


Artificial filtering of the blood to replace the lost function of damaged kidneys. Hemodialysis is the most common method of dialysis in the U.S.


three kidneys one with caner one with the cancer chunk removed and one with the cancer spot sewed up

Surgery to remove a kidney. Nephrectomy is performed for kidney cancer or severe kidney damage.

a diagram showing the process of hemodialysis


A person with complete kidney failure is connected to a dialysis machine, which filters the blood and returns it to the body. Hemodialysis is typically done three days per week in people with ESRD.

Placing large amounts of a special fluid in the abdomen through a catheter, allows the body to filter the blood using the natural membrane lining the abdomen. After a while the fluid with the waste is drained and discarded.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Kidney Transplant

Transplanting a kidney into a person with ESRD can restore kidney function. A kidney may be transplanted from a living or a recently deceased donor.