Renal Medulla and Pyramid: Function, Structure, and differences

Rashid Nuzha, Mary Ellen Ellis
  • Author
    Rashid Nuzha

    In 2021, Rashid earned a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Studies in Education (PGCPSE) from The Open University-United Kingdom. In 2019, he obtained ITTT 120-hour TEFL Certificate. Rashid has held a BSc in Physics and Mathematics since 2005. Also, Rashid has 7-years of experience in educational leadership and management.

  • Instructor
    Mary Ellen Ellis

    Mary Ellen is a science and education writer with a background in chemistry. She holds an M.S. in analytical chemistry and has worked as a high school science teacher.

Learn about the renal medulla of the kidney, the renal medulla function and structure. Also, learn the renal pyramid function and the difference between renal medulla and pyramid. Updated: 12/31/2021

Table of Contents


What is the Renal Medulla?

To know what is the renal medulla, recall that the kidneys are the filtering part of the human urinary system where the renal medulla is the tissue that occupies the central and inner parts of the kidney. The medulla kidney contains renal pyramids where waste collection and elimination occur. The medulla urinary system in both kidneys is considered the major filtration part of the renal system.

Kidney Cortex and Medulla

Every kidney has three main regions: the renal medulla, cortex, and pelvis. The outermost layer of a kidney is the fibrous capsule. The renal cortex occupies the space between the fibrous capsule and the renal medulla, which is found at the center of the kidney. However, the renal pelvis is the part where the kidney connects to nerves and blood vessels. Also, in the renal cortex, an important hormone-Erythropotein- is produced to help create new red blood cells.



Kidney Anatomy

Kidney Anatomy

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Renal Medulla Function

The renal medulla function in both kidneys is to filter liquid waste, retain fluid in case the body is dehydrated, balance electrolytes, and eliminate extra acidity in the bloodstream. The renal medulla process the waste from the bloodstream through many levels of filtration, secretion, reabsorption, and excretion. Different kinds of waste such as urea, ammonia, and creatinine are directed through different channels to be sent to the bladder.

Monitoring the molecules and chemicals found in the waste is one way to detect disease in the kidneys. For example, proteins are normally too large to be filtered by the kidneys, thus when a large amount of protein is found in the waste, it is indicative of kidney damage or disease.

Renal Medulla Structure

Triangular masses called renal pyramids are found in the renal medulla structure. Inside each renal pyramid, there are networks of nephrons. Nephrons are sensitive to different kinds of molecules in the bloodstream, which allows them to balance ions and water in the body. Both nephrons and renal pyramids will be discussed below.

Renal Pyramid

The renal pyramids are masses that have triangle-like shapes inside the renal medulla. Each renal pyramid contains a large number of tubules called nephrons, or the functional units of the kidneys.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does the renal medulla contain?

The renal medulla contains about a dozen cone-shaped structures called renal pyramids. Each renal pyramid contains more than a million tubules are called nephrons.

What is the renal medulla in the kidney?

The renal medulla is the tissue that occupies the central and inner parts of the parenchyma in both kidneys. The renal medulla contains renal pyramids where waste collection and elimination occur.

What is the difference between the renal cortex and medulla?

The renal medulla is the kidney's heart and where the urine is ultimately channeled to the bladder. The renal cortex is where the urine is collected by filtration processes. Blood, which carries the body's liquid waste, arrives at the cortex where nephrons' ends exist.

What is the renal medulla divided into?

The renal medulla is the inner part of the kidney's parenchyma where it contains about a dozen triangle-shaped structures called renal pyramids. Each renal pyramid contains more than a million tubules are called nephrons.

What collects urine from a renal pyramid?

Urine is guided through millions of tubules are called nephrons located in the renal pyramids where they empty into an extension of the renal pelvis called the calyx that leads the urine to the ureter in the renal pelvis.

Is the renal medulla a tissue?

The parenchyma of the kidneys is the solid part of the kidney, and the renal medulla is the tissue that occupies the central and inner parts of the parenchyma.

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