ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF THE GENITOURINARY SYSTEM
The term "genitourinary" actually refers to two different systems. Urinary refers
to the system responsible for removal of nitrogenous waste products of metabolism
from the bloodstream, disposal of concentrated wastes (urine), and also water
conservation. Genito refers to the genital organs and the reproductive system, which is
responsible for production of succeeding generations for perpetuation of the species.
The urinary system's primary function is to help keep the body in homeostasis
(internal environment of the body remains relatively the same, within limits) by
controlling the composition and volume of blood. The urinary system does this by
removing and restoring selected amounts of water and solutes. The urinary system is
made up of two kidneys, two ureters, one urinary bladder, and one urethra. Each
kidney, the primary organs of this system, excretes urine through a ureter. The urine is
stored in the urinary bladder and finally expelled from the body through the urethra.
See figures 1-1 and 1-2 for organs of the urinary system
Other systems also have a part in waste elimination from the body. These
systems are the respiratory, integumentary, and digestive systems
The two kidneys are reddish, bean-shaped organs. They are located on the
posterior wall of the abdominal cavity between the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebra
(T-12) and the third lumbar vertebra (L3). Think of these organs as being just above the
waist. The term for their location is retroperitoneal, which means that they are external
to the peritoneal lining of the abdominal cavity. These organs are about 11 to 12
centimeters long and 5 to 6 centimeters wide. Since the liver occupies a large space on
the right side of the abdominal cavity, the right kidney is slightly lower than the left
kidney. The kidneys are held in place by fat. See figure 1-3.