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Learning objectives

Upon completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Describe the features and course of the ureters.
  2. Identify the main structures that are related to the ureters.
  3. Discuss the function of the ureters.
  4. Identify the neurovasculature of the ureters.

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The ureters are a pair of muscular, tubular structures that are responsible for transporting urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder by peristalsis for temporary storage, until urination. Each ureter arises as a continuation of the funnel-shaped renal pelvis at the hilum of the kidney in the posterior abdomen and runs distally into the pelvic cavity to enter the base of the urinary bladder. The ureters are closely related to several structures along their course including psoas major muscle, parts of the intestines, several blood vessels in the abdominopelvic cavity, ductus deferens in males and the uterine cervix in females.

The blood supply of the ureters comes from the abdominal aorta through multiple direct and indirect branches along its length. The ureters receive both sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation through several plexuses in the abdomen and pelvis.

This video will help you learn about the anatomy and function of the ureters in detail.

Take a quiz

Solidify your knowledge with our quiz about the ureters:

Browse atlas

Browse our atlas gallery to further review the course and relations of the ureters.


Key points about the ureters
Parts Abdominal, pelvic
Function Transport of urine from the kidneys to urinary bladder
Major relations Right ureter: psoas major muscle, genitofemoral nerve, duodenum (descending part), branches of the superior mesenteric vessels, gonadal vessels, common iliac artery, uterine artery, urinary bladder
Left ureter:
psoas major, genitofemoral nerve, branches of the inferior mesenteric vessels, gonadal vessels, common iliac artery, uterine artery urinary bladder
Blood supply Ureteric branches of renal artery, ovarian/testicular artery, ureteric branches of abdominal aorta and common iliac arteries, ureteric branches of the superior and inferior vesical and uterine arteries
Innervation Renal plexus and ganglia, aortic plexus, ureteric branches of intermesenteric plexus, pelvic splanchnic nerves, superior and inferior hypogastric plexuses
Lymphatic drainage Internal iliac, external iliac nodes, common iliac, and lumbar lymph nodes

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