Ureter: Definition & Function

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  • 0:01 What Do Your Kidneys Do?
  • 1:07 Ureters
  • 2:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Phenix
In this lesson, you will explore the function of the paired ureters, as well as how their structure enables them to transfer urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder.

What Do Your Kidneys Do?

While your kidneys are, arguably, the true workhorses of your urinary system, they couldn't complete their task without their paired ureters.

Most people are born with two kidneys (a right and a left) which work tirelessly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as the fluid waste management and recycling system of your body. Every hour they filter your entire blood volume about 12 times - that's 288 times a day!

They are an extremely efficient and necessary sorting system that makes sure necessary elements (like water, glucose, salts and electrolytes) are returned to your blood, while removing toxic elements such as urea. Your kidneys are also responsible for monitoring and maintaining your blood volume by removing excess nontoxic elements, like water and salts. While most people can survive with only one kidney, without either, your own blood would quickly become toxic and deadly to the tissues of your body - the outcome would be disastrous!


The ureters are like the shipping lanes of your urinary system. They collect the fluid waste (urine) from your kidneys and transfer it down to your urinary bladder, where it is stored until your next visit to the bathroom. Your ureters are long tubes, anywhere from 8-12 inches in length, which are composed of an outer muscular layer called the muscularis and are lined with many layers of cells, called transitional epithelial cells, that allow the tube to stretch and expand as fluid passes through. Since the kidneys are located above the bladder, gravity draws most of the fluid through the ureter; however, the muscularis layer is capable of peristaltic action (wave-like muscle contractions) and can force fluid down their lengths.

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