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Mammalian Kidney Dissection

Yezi Cho

A pig kidney was dissected to explore the anatomy and function of a mammalian kidney. A preserved kidney from Carolina Biological Supply was used for this dissection.

A posterior view of the kidney shows the external view. The kidney is surrounded by a fibrous capsule (renal capsule) that protects it. The outer structure is dense, being made up of connective tissue.

A lateral view shows the renal helium, which consists of the renal vein, renal artery, and renal nerve. The ureter is a muscular, tubular structure that transports urine to the bladder for storage until excretion. The ureter originates from the renal pelvis and connects to the fundus of the bladder.

Using a scalpel, a lateral, longitudinal cut was made through the kidney to make the following division.

An overview of the internal view of the kidney shows the major structures, which are relatively easy to identify compared to those in other organs.

The inner medulla consists of several renal pyramids, which are surrounded by cortical tissue. From the tip of each renal pyramid, which is the papilla, urine goes through the minor and major calyces that lead to the renal pelvis.

The forceps show the minor and major calyces.

The forceps show the renal pelvis.

The dark visible structure is the renal pyramid.

Figure 2. Structure of the Mammalian Kidney (, Harvard Stem Cell Institute,)

Nephrons are located in the cortex and medulla.

A nephron is the functional unit of a kidney. Through the glomerulus and tubule, it filters waste from the blood. Filtered blood then enters the renal vein and circulates the body.

The structure indicated by the forceps are likely the renal vessels - vein or artery.

Figure 4 shows the structure of a renal lobe, which consists of the renal pyramid, renal columns, and renal cortex. Figure 5 shows how the papilla connected to a minor calyx - minor calyces merge to form major calyces, which together form the renal pelvis.

This shows the internal view of the renal vein, renal artery and ureter. Distinguishing between the renal arteries and veins was of difficulty.

After observing the structures, the specimen was disposed in accordance to guidelines.


“Renal Ultrasound.”, Sonoguide, 2020, Accessed 21 Sept. 2023.

Davidson, Alan J. “Figure 1, Structure of the Mammalian Kidney.”, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, 15 Jan. 2009, Accessed 21 Sept. 2023.

‌“Mammalian Kidney Dissection.” 2023. Carolina Biological Supply. 2023.

“Patient Education: Nephron Structure.” 2014. 2014.


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