Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Polycystic Kidney Disease Anatomy

To better understand polycystic kidney disease, it helps to understand the anatomy of the kidneys.

The kidneys are located in the back of the abdomen, below the ribcage and on either side of the spine. Each kidney weighs about 1/4 pound (0.6 kg) and is about the size of a fist. The kidneys filter waste from the bloodstream and produce urine. The kidneys also regulate the salt and water balance for the body.


  • Kidney
  • Kidney cross section
  • Kidney cross section close-up
  • Kidney collecting system
  • Genitourinary system

Last Updated: Nov 1, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Polycystic Kidney Disease References
  1. Bissler JJ, Dixon BP. A mechanistic approach to inherited polycystic kidney disease. Pediatr Nephrol. 2005 May;20(5):558-66. [15719257]
  2. Smyth BJ, Snyder RW, Balkovetz DF, Lipschutz JH. Recent advances in the cell biology of polycystic kidney disease. Int Rev Cytol. 2003;231:51-89. [14713003]
  3. Torres VE. Therapies to slow polycystic kidney disease. Nephron Exp Nephrol. 2004;98(1):e1-7. [15361692]
  4. Wilson PD. Polycystic kidney disease: new understanding in the pathogenesis. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2004 Oct;36(10):1868-73. [15203099]
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