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Renal capsule

Recommended video: Kidneys in situ [24:29]
Kidneys in situ seen from the anterior view.

The fibrous capsule of the kidney, or renal capsule, comprises collagen-rich tissue that envelope each kidney. It also contains elastic and smooth muscle fibers.  A perirenal fat body and layer of renal fascia surround the renal capsule. 

These layers are collectively referred to as the adipose capsule of the kidney.  The fibrous capsule of the kidney also extends into the hollow area of the kidney called the sinus. The sinus contains the ureters, arteries and veins that deliver nutrients and oxygen to the tissue. The capsule interlinks with these structures inside the sinus and lines its walls.

The fibrous capsule of the kidney receives its blood supply from the interlobar arteries of the kidney which originate from the renal artery. These arteries travel through the kidney's cortex before reaching and supplying the capsule. Additional blood supply to the renal capsule is deliver by capsular branches, which rise directly from the renal artery (external to the kidney parenchyma) to supply the renal capsule and adipose tissue. 

The function of the renal capsule is to protect the kidney from injury and provide support to its mass. It also contributes to regulating the kidney's volume in response to elevated blood pressure.

Terminology English: Fibrous capsule of kidney
Latin: Capsula fibrosa renis
Location Encircles the outer wall of the kidney
Function Protect kidney from harm; support its mass; limit changes in kidney volume

Learn more about the renal capsule and the kidneys in this study unit:

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