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HealthInfo Canterbury

Healthy kidneys

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs about the size of your fist. Most people have two kidneys, and they sit just below your rib cage, one on each side of your spine.

What do kidneys do?

An illustration showing blood going into your kidney, filtered blood coming out and wastes (urine) going to your bladder.Your kidneys' main jobs are to:

How do they do it?

Each of your kidneys is made up of about a million filtering units, called nephrons. The nephrons are made up of tiny blood vessels called glomeruli (plural) or glomerulus (singular).

The glomeruli filter your blood, and take out the waste and extra fluid, turning them into urine. The clean blood then goes back into your body, while the urine travels to your bladder, through thin tubes called ureters. Your bladder stores the urine, until you go to the toilet, when it leaves your body through another tube, called your urethra.

Every day your blood passes through your kidneys 20 to 25 times, so your kidneys filter about 180 litres of blood a day. Almost all your blood goes back into your body once it's been cleaned, while about 1.5 to 2 litres leave your body as urine.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Nephrology Department, Canterbury DHB. Page created August 2016.


See also:

Understanding your renal function results

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