Normally, each kidney is supplied by a single renal artery originating from the side of the aorta, immediately below the superior mesenteric artery typically at the level of L2 (Fig. 1). Each renal ar
tery courses posteriorly to reach the kidneys, with the right longer and lower than the left, given the relatively inferior position of the right kidney. The right renal artery courses behind the inferior vena cava, the right renal vein, the head of the pancreas, and the descending part of the duodenum. The left renal artery lies posterior to the left renal vein, the body of the pancreas and the splenic vein, and is crossed by the inferior mesenteric vein.
The renal artery divides into four or five branches before reaching the renal hilum. The first branch is into the anterior and posterior division, usually occurring just prior to the renal hilum. The posterior division may be smaller and supplies a large portion of blood flow to the posterior portion of the kidney. The anterior division continues before dividing into the apical, upper, middle, and lower anterior segmental arteries at the renal hilum. These segmental arteries course through the renal sinus and branch into the lobar arteries.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.