Renal circulation

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The circulation to and from the kidneys.

The renal circulation receives around 20% of the cardiac output. It branches from the abdominal aorta and returns blood to the ascending vena cava. It is the blood supply to the kidney, and contains many specialized blood vessels.


The table below shows the path that blood takes when it travels through the glomerulus, traveling "down" the arteries and "up" the veins. However, this model is greatly simplified for clarity and symmetry. Some of the other paths and complications are described at the bottom of the table.

The interlobar artery and vein (not to be confused with interlobular) are between two renal lobes, also known as the renal column (cortex region between two pyramids).

Arteries (down) Veins (up)
Abdominal aorta Vena cava
Renal artery (Note 1) Renal vein
Segmental arteries (Note 2) -
Lobar arteries -
Interlobar artery Interlobar vein
Arcuate arteries Arcuate vein
Interlobular artery (Note 3) Interlobular vein
Afferent arterioles Efferent arterioles (Note 4)
Glomerulus Glomerulus
  • Note 1: The renal artery also provides a branch to the inferior suprarenal artery to supply the adrenal gland.
  • Note 2: Each renal artery partitions into an anterior and posterior branch. The anterior branch further divides into the superior (apical), anterosuperior, anteroinferior and inferior segmental arteries. The posterior branch continues as the posterior segmental artery.
  • Note 3: Also called the cortical radiate arteries. The interlobular artery also supplies to the stellate veins.
  • Note 4: The efferent arterioles do not directly drain into the interlobular vein, but rather they go to the peritubular capillaries first. The efferent arterioles of the juxtamedullary nephron drain into the vasa recta.

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