Both kidneys have similar muscular surroundings. Posteriorly, the diaphragm covers the upper third of each kidney. Medially, the lower two-thirds of the kidney lie against the psoas muscle, and laterally, the quadratus lumborum.
The right kidney borders the duodenum medially. Its lower pole lies behind the hepatic flexure of the colon.
The left kidney is bordered superiorly by the tail of the pancreas, the spleen superolaterally, and the splenic flexure of the colon inferiorly.
The Gerota’s fascia encloses the kidney and is an effective barrier for containing blood or a urine leak.
The renal artery and vein travel from the aorta and IVC just below the SMA at the level of the second lumbar vertebra. The vein lies anterior to the artery. The renal pelvis and ureter are located posterior to the vessels.
The right renal artery takes off from the aorta with a downward slope under the IVC into the right kidney. The left renal artery courses directly off the aorta into the left kidney. Each renal artery branches into five segmental arteries as it approaches the kidney.
The right renal vein is typically 2–4 cm in length, does not receive any branches, and enters into the lateral edge of the IVC. Ligation of the vein causes hemorrhagic infarction of the kidney because of the lack of collaterals.
The left renal vein is typically 6–10 cm in length, passes posterior to the SMA and anterior to the aorta. The left renal vein receives branches from the left adrenal vein superiorly, lumbar veins posteriorly, and the left gonadal vein inferiorly. This allows for ligation of the left renal vein close to the IVC.
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