Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Overview of the Adrenal Glands


David Bruyette

, DVM, DACVIM, Anivive Lifesciences, Inc.

Last full review/revision Apr 2019 | Content last modified Oct 2020

The adrenal glands are essential for life, being responsible for the minute-to-minute regulation of blood pressure, blood volume, and vascular tone. Originally, their actions were thought to be limited to the "flight or fight phenomenon, but with increased knowledge of the many actions of aldosterone and aldosterone excess there has been renewed interest in the adrenal glands with respect to health and disease.

The adrenal glands of mammals are located near the cranial pole of the kidneys. They consist of two distinct parts, the outer cortex and inner medulla, which differ in morphology, function, and origin.

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