Adrenal gland

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

In mammals, the adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys; their name indicates that position (ad-, "near" or "at" + -renes, "kidneys"). They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamines, including cortisol and adrenaline.

Anatomy and function

Anatomically, the adrenal glands are located in the thoracic abdomen situated atop the kidneys, specifically on their anterosuperior aspect. In humans, the adrenal glands are found at the level of the 12th thoracic vertebra and receive their blood supply from the adrenal arteries.

The adrenal gland is separated into two distinct structures, both of which receive regulatory input from the nervous system:

Arteries and veins

Although variations of the blood supply to the adrenal glands (and indeed the kidneys themselves) are common, there are usually three arteries that supply each adrenal gland:

Venous drainage of the adrenal glands is achieved via the suprarenal veins:

The suprarenal veins receive blood may form anastomoses with the inferior phrenic veins.

The adrenal glands and the thyroid gland are the organs that have the greatest blood supply per gram of tissue. Up to 60 arterioles may enter each adrenal gland.[1]

See also



  1. JE Skandalakis. Surgical Anatomy: The Embryologic And Anatomic Basis Of Modern Surgery (2004).

General references

Template:Endocrine system Template:Adrenal gland

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