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The kidneys are paired organs, which have the production of urine as their primary function. Kidneys are seen in many types of animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are part of the urinary system, but have several secondary functions concerned with homeostatic functions. These include the regulation of electrolytes, acid-base balance, and blood pressure. In producing urine, the kidneys excrete wastes such as urea and ammonium; the kidneys also are responsible for the reabsorption of glucose and amino acids. Finally, the kidneys are important in the production of hormones including vitamin D, renin and erythropoietin.
Located behind the abdominal cavity in the retroperitoneum, the kidneys receive blood from the paired renal arteries, and drain into the paired renal veins. Each kidney excretes urine into a ureter, itself a paired structure that empties into the urinary bladder.
Renal physiology is the study of kidney function, while nephrology is the medical specialty concerned with diseases of the kidney. Diseases of the kidney are diverse, but individuals with kidney disease frequently display characteristic clinical features. Common clinical presentations include the nephritic and nephrotic syndromes, acute kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, urinary tract infection, nephrolithiasis, and urinary tract obstruction.