Master Renal Clearance with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.

Renal Clearance

Kidney clearing the floor with a broom
tantheman
5 KEY FACTS
CONCEPTS
Estimates Volume of Substance Cleared by Kidney Per Unit Time
Kidney on measuring cup over watch

Renal clearance tells us what volume of plasma is completely cleared of a substance in a given amount of time. For example, if I have one liter of plasma with four particles of substance and I remove all four particles in an hour, my renal clearance is one liter per hour. If however I clear only two particles out of four in a given hour, my renal clearance is half a liter per hour. 

Clearance of Creatinine Used to Estimate GFR
GFR-Gopher grabbing fro cr-eam

One specific clinical use of calculating renal clearance is in calculating the clearance of creatinine, which is used to estimate glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. Creatinine specifically is used because it is freely filtered at the glomerulus and is neither actively absorbed or excreted. In other words, the urine concentration of creatinine compared to the plasma concentration is dependent only on how much volume is able to be cleared by the kidney, which is dependent on its function and ability to filter. In comparison, the concentration of other substances, for example sodium, in the urine versus plasma is dependent on other factors such as endocrine signaling and volume status, which may lead to active excretion or absorption of sodium independent of renal function. 

EQUATION
Urine Concentration of Substance X (Ux)
Concentrated-urine-drop in U shape

The urine concentration of a substance (Ux) expressed in units of concentration such as mg/dL or mmol/L must be measured in order to calculate renal clearance of a substance. 

Times Urine Flow Rate
Urinal over clock

The urine flow rate is expressed as volume per unit time, and reflects the volume of urine produced in a given amount of time. When trying to measure this clinically, urine is typically collected over a twenty-four hour period and measured. 

Over Plasma Concentration of Substance X
Plasma-concentrate under balcony

Finally, the product of urine flow rate and urine concentration of substance X is divided by the plasma concentration of substance X, which is typically obtained from a blood draw. You will notice that the units of concentration from dividing urine by plasma concentration will cancel out, leaving units of volume per unit time. 

Unlock all 5 facts & definitions with Picmonic Free!

JOIN FREE

Take the Renal Clearance Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

START QUIZ NOW

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Ace Your Medical (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,040,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medical (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medical (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medical (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medical (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.