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Image Number 28 - Kidney, jaundice

Bile is composed of the heme breakdown products bilirubin and biliverdin, and the cholesterol acids. Bilirubin is a reddish-brown pigment; biliverdin is the green oxidized form of bilirubin. The body normally synthesizes bilirubin from biliverdin. Upon exposure to air, the bilirubin becomes biliverdin. This explains the greenish tinge seen in this gross specimen of the kidney. The kidney has been chosen to highlight the fact that jaundice (icterus) affects all of the organs of the adult except the brain. However, in the infant and especially the fetus, kernicterus or "nuclear yellowing" (jaundice) of the basal ganglia may be seen.

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