Structure: Urinary System

The urinary system consists of two kidneys, each linked by a ureter to the bladder, and a urethra, which connects the bladder to the outside of the body. The kidneys lie at the back of the abdomen, on either side of the spine. They are reddish-brown, bean-shaped organs, about 10–12.5 cm (4–5 in) long and 5–7.5 cm (2–3 in) wide. The ureters are thin, muscular tubes about 25–30 cm (10–12 in) long, and the bladder is a hollow, muscular organ located in the pelvis. The bladder’s lower opening is surrounded by muscle that helps to control the release of urine through the urethra.

X-ray of urinary system

This specialized X-ray, known as an intravenous urogram (IVU), is used to highlight structures of the urinary system. The image clearly shows part of the kidneys; the ureters lying at either side of the spine; and the bladder. No abnormalities are seen.

Female lower urinary tract

The female urethra is shorter than the male urethra, and sits slightly lower in the pelvis.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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