Renal fascia

Last revised by Jordan Mackner on 22 Mar 2023

The renal fascia is a dense, elastic connective tissue sheath that envelops each kidney and adrenal gland together with a layer of surrounding perirenal fat forming the perirenal space.

It is a multi-laminated structure which is fused posteromedially with the muscular fasciae of the psoas and quadratus lumborum muscles. It extends anterolaterally behind the kidney as a bileaved layer, which then divides into two renal fasciae that pass in front of and behind the kidney:

  • Gerota fascia (anterior renal fascia): a thin lamina that passes around the front of the kidney and variably interleaves with the opposite anterior fascia

  • Zuckerkandl fascia (posterior renal fascia): a thicker posterior fascia which continues anterolaterally as the lateroconal fascia and fuses with the parietal peritoneum

Generally the anterior and posterior fascial leaflets fuse inferiorly closing off the perirenal space from the rest of the retroperitoneum.

History and etymology

Emil Zuckerkandl (1849-1910) 2, was a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Vienna who described his eponymous fascia in 1883 3. However Zuckerkandl did not recognize the separate anterior renal fascia.

Dimitrie D Gerota (1867-1939) 4, a Romanian Professor of Anatomy and Surgery described his fascia in 1885 3 and at the same time named the posterior fascial layer after Zuckerkandl. 

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: retroperitoneal spaces
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  • Figure 2: retroperitoneum (axial)
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  • Figure 3: retroperitoneum
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