The renal calyces, from seven to thirteen in number, are cup-shaped tubes, each of which embraces one or more of the renal papillæ; they unite to form two or three short tubes (the superior, middle and inferior calyces), and these in turn join to form a funnel-shaped sac, the renal pelvis. The renal pelvis, wide above and narrow below where it joins the ureter, is partly outside the renal sinus. The renal calyces and pelvis form the upper expanded end of the excretory duct of the kidney.
The minor calyces surround the apex of the renal pyramids. Urine formed in the kidney passes through a renal papilla at the apex into the minor calyx; two or three minor calyces converge to form a major calyx, through which urine passes before continuing through the renal pelvis into the ureter.