The same principles of mass balance apply to the kidney as apply to the whole body. If any given substance leaves the kidney at a rate different from that at which it enters, the renal content of that substance would constantly increase or decrease. The route of input into the kidney is the renal artery, but there are three routes of output: the renal vein, the renal lymphatics, and the urine. (Note that, for simplicity, any losses or gains due to metabolism within the kidney are not considered here, but in the case of some substances these changes may be important.) The renal vein and the lymphatics return substances to the systemic circulation,
This relationship and the routes of mass flow into and out of the kidney are shown diagrammatically in Fig. 2.
The rate of mass flow for a substance by each of these four routes can be calculated from Eq.  as the product of the rate of plasma, lymphatic, or urine flow times the concentration of the substance in that flow.
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