The kidneys are paired, bean-shaped, blood filtering organs, which sits on either side of the backbone and are attached to the upper back wall of the abdomen. A kidney in healthy adult measures 10 to 12 cm in length, 5 to 7 cm in width, and 3 cm in thickness and has a mass of approximately 135 to 150 grams. The kidney is made up of small functional units known as nephrons, which constitute the medulla and cortex of the kidney.
Three layers surround the kidney: an innermost renal capsule made up of dense irregular connective tissue, a middle adipose layer made up of fatty tissue, and an outermost renal fascia (also known as Gerota’s fascia) made up of dense irregular connective tissue. Adrenal glands are two small glands which are present on top of each kidney.
The main functions of the kidneys include excretion of waste material by filtration of blood, maintenance of blood pressure, and production of hormones – renin (that helps in maintaining blood pressure), calcitriol (that helps in maintaining bone density) and erythropoietin (that stimulate the production of red blood cells in bone marrow).
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) (affecting tubules in kidneys) is the most commonly encountered (90% of the cases) kidney cancer. RCCs are further divided into following subtypes based on their histology (appearance under a microscope): clear cell RCC, papillary RCC, chromophobe RCC, multilocular cystic RCC, collecting duct RCC, medullary carcinoma, mucinous tubular and spindle cell carcinoma, neuroblastoma-associated RCC, and unclassified lesions.
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