The renal tubules, commencing in the renal corpuscles, present, during their course, many changes in shape and direction, and are contained partly in the medullary and partly in the cortical substance.
At their junction with the glomerular capsule they exhibit a somewhat constricted portion, which is termed the neck. Beyond this the tubule becomes convoluted, and pursues a considerable course in the cortical substance constituting the proximal convoluted tube. After a time the convolutions disappear, and the tube approaches the medullary substance in a more or less spiral manner; this section of the tubule has been called the spiral tube. Throughout this portion of their course the renal tubules are contained entirely in the cortical substance, and present a fairly uniform caliber. They now enter the medullary substance, suddenly become much smaller, quite straight in direction, and dip down for a variable depth into the pyramids, constituting the descending limb of Henle’s loop. Bending on themselves, they form what is termed the loop of Henle, and reascending, they become suddenly enlarged, forming the ascending limb of Henle’s loop, and reënter the cortical substance. This portion of the tubule ascends for a short distance, when it again becomes dilated, irregular, and angular. This section is termed the zigzag tubule; it ends in a convoluted tube, which resembles the proximal convoluted tubule, and is called the distal convoluted tubule. This again terminates in a narrow junctional tube, which enters the straight or collecting tube.