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Renal arteries

Learning objectives

Completing this study unit will allow you to:

  1. Learn where the renal arteries originate and their course until their final branches.
  2. Understand the singularity of the right and left renal arteries.
  3. Name the main branches of the renal arteries and how they are disposed to supply the kidneys and a few surrounding structures.

Watch videos

The renal arteries arise from the abdominal aorta just inferior to the superior mesenteric artery in the retroperitoneum. Each coursers posterior to the ipsilateral renal vein and nerves towards the renal hilum, where it enter the kidneys. The right renal artery arises a little lower than its left counterpart and is also longer, travelling posterior to the inferior vena cava.

It’s important to note that around 30% of people have multiple renal arteries. These also enter the renal hilum and are called accessory renal arteries, arising directly from the abdominal aorta just below or above the main renal arteries, or rarely from the celiac trunk or superior mesenteric artery. It is also common to find polar arteries, which are extrahilar renal arteries that enter the kidneys via its external surface, most frequently at the renal poles.

The renal arteries supply oxygenated blood to the kidney parenchyma and simultaneously delivers the blood to be filtered by the kidneys. To learn more about the renal arteries and all their branches to the kidneys and a few surrounding structures make sure to check out our video tutorial below.

Take a quiz

Now it is time to test your knowledge of the renal arteries and make all this information stick. Have a look at our quiz!

Do you want to learn even more about the kidney and ureters? Take a look at the quiz below which covers all the structures of the kidney and the ureters. You can even personalize your own quiz and choose which structures you’d like to be questioned about.

Browse atlas

Explore each of the individual arteries you learned about today in the gallery below.


Key points about the renal arteries
Origin Abdominal aorta, at the level of the IV disc between the L1 and L2 vertebrae, inferior to the origin of the superior mesenteric artery
Branches Anterior branch: Superior (apical), anterior superior, anterior inferior and inferior segmental arteries
Posterior branch
: Posterior segmental arteries
Inferior suprarenal (adrenal) artery
Pelvic branches
Ureteric branch
Functions Supply kidney parenchyma with oxygenated blood
Deliver blood to be filtered by the kidney
Supply Kidneys, suprarenal glands, ureters

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