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Blood Supply of the Kidneys

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  • 0:05 Blood Supply to the Kidneys
  • 0:48 Aorta and Renal Artery
  • 1:43 Interlobar Arteries
  • 2:30 Arcuate and…
  • 3:35 Renal Vein
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Follow the blood supply of the kidneys through the aorta and into the renal artery, then delve deeper into the blood supply as we look into the arcuate artery, interlobar artery, and interlobular artery. Finally, we will find out the function of the renal vein.

Blood Supply to the Kidneys

Every single part of your body needs to be nourished with nutrients, including oxygen, in order to survive. Your kidneys are no different. They need a blood supply in order to live. Conversely, your blood needs your kidneys, as they are responsible for maintaining water and electrolyte balance. It's a two-way street. The kidneys aren't parasites, leeching off of your blood supply for nutrients; they also assist your vascular system immensely by helping to filter your blood. Let's go on a little journey through your blood vessels in order to see how the kidneys are nourished with blood.

The Aorta and Renal Artery

Renal arteries supply the kidneys with blood
Renal Arteries

Let's sail on our little ship, the HMS Kidney. We sail through turbulent water, the blood, in our heart. We get ejected out from the heart and into the largest artery in our body, the aorta. The aorta eventually enters the abdomen, where the kidneys are located. We sail along the length of the abdominal aorta and eventually reach a place where the aorta gives off a little branch to the side, kind of like the branches or tributaries that the Amazon River gives off.

If we want to reach one of the kidneys, we have to follow a blood vessel, coming off of the surface of the abdominal aorta, which supplies a kidney with blood, called the renal artery. You have two renal arteries in your body, one for each kidney.

Interlobar Arteries

Location of the interlobar arteries in the kidney
Interlobar Arteries

As our little ship enters the renal artery, we make a few more turns into other branches and eventually reach a place where there is an artery going in between the different lobes of the kidney. Since we're the first explorers to reach this mysterious tributary, we can name it! Let's keep it simple and not name it after someone's unpronounceable last name. Since these are arteries supplying blood to the renal lobes and they are between the lobes, let's name them interlobar arteries on our map. 'Inter' in 'interlobar' refers to the fact that they are between something - in our case, between the renal lobes.

Arcuate and Interlobular Arteries

As we travel through the interlobar arteries, we come to a section where we see a bunch of vascular branches off of the interlobar arteries shaped like arcs. Because they are shaped like arcs, we decide to appropriately name them the arcuate arteries on our map. These arteries are located right at the border of the outer and inner portion of the kidney - the renal cortex and medulla, respectively.

Arcuate arteries supply blood to the renal cortex
Arcuate Arteries

After naming these new arteries, we continue our journey through them and eventually reach branches of the arcuate arteries that supply the renal cortex with blood, which are known as the interlobular arteries or the cortical radial arteries. The interlobular artery will eventually give off a branch called the afferent arteriole that will supply the functional unit of the kidney, the nephron, with blood.

Renal Vein

Once we're done traveling through the kidney's blood supply, we'll need to make a quick exit, as I think our boat has sprung a leak we can't control. We'll travel through a bunch of small veins and eventually reach a vein that carries the blood purified by the kidney back into general circulation. We call this vein the renal vein.

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