If asked to name the primary function of the urinary system, many people will answer that the primary function of the kidneys is to eliminate wastes from the body. Elimination of waste is an important role for the kidneys, but the primary function of the kidneys is to maintain a stable balance of water and solutes in the fluid of the body. The urinary system regulates blood volume and blood pressure, controls levels of electrolytes and metabolites, and regulates blood pH.
At every moment approximately one fourth of the blood pumped by the heart is passing through the kidneys. The kidneys process the blood, removing some substances and adding others. The complex mechanics of filtration, reabsorption, and secretion constitute the subject matter of urinary physiology, which has major overlap with important topics from general chemistry. The urinary system is a long-standing favorite subject for MCAT passages.
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Conceptual Vocabulary for The Urinary System