Kidney Removal Surgery (Radical Nephrectomy)




A nephrectomy is a major surgery to remove all or part of the kidney. The kidneys are two small, bean-shapes like organs located in the abdomen. They sift water and waste products from your blood. They as well produce certain hormones.

A nephrectomy is performed when:

You have kidney cancer

You’re donating your kidney

Your kidney is damaged

Your kidney is no longer functioning accurately

Your doctor may remove your kidney using either of these surgical procedures; open surgery or laparoscopically. Laparoscopic surgery has to do with smaller incisions and has a quicker recovery time. Recovering from a nephrectomy can take some weeks. It can be very painful. As with any surgery, complications such as infections are likely. Nevertheless, the outlook is generally very good.

What are the reasons for kidney removal?

Removing part or all of a kidney is a major procedure, and doctors consider it a last resort to preserving your health.

Damaged kidney
You may need to have part or your entire kidney removed if it is not working accurately. Reasons for removal include damage or scarring. These might also be as a result of disease, injury, or infection. Cancer is also another cause to remove a kidney. If a kidney tumor is small and you notice it early, only part of your kidney may require removal.

Donating a kidney
At times, a person will donate their healthy kidney to someone who needs a new kidney. Kidney transplants are more successful with kidneys from living donors than deceased donors. You can be healthy with only one kidney.

What are the types of kidney removal surgery?

There are different types of nephrectomy.

Simple nephrectomy
A simple nephrectomy has to do with removing the whole kidney. Your surgeon will carry out a cut up to 12 inches long in your side. The surgeon will cut off your kidney’s blood vessels and its connections to your bladder. Your surgeon will then remove the whole organ. They may additionally need to remove a rib to access your kidney.

Partial nephrectomy
This procedure has to do with removing only part of your kidney. The procedure is so similar to a simple nephrectomy. Nevertheless, your surgeon may be able to use a smaller incision.

Laparoscopic surgery
This method, also referred to as a keyhole surgery, can be used for either a simple or partial nephrectomy. Instead of one long incision, your surgeon will make a series of smaller incisions in your abdomen. They will put in a camera and other small instruments through the incisions. This will help the surgeon to see inside you and remove your kidney. This kind of surgery is normally less painful than open surgery. Recovery time is less as well.

What are the dangers of kidney removal?

There are dangers related with any major surgery. Complications are rare, but they include:

Loss of blood

Heart attack


Breathing difficulties

Infection at the surgical incision site

Allergic reaction to anesthesia or other medications

The formation of a blood clot in your legs that moves into your lungs, which is called a pulmonary embolism

Other risks particular to a nephrectomy include

An injury to other organs or tissues within your kidney

You may additionally experience problems with the remaining kidney after surgery. This is partly because individuals who need kidney surgery may have an increased danger of other kidney diseases. These problems are less common in kidney donors.

A hernia in which organs may swell out of your surgical incision                        

How do I prepare for kidney removal?

Me sure you tell your doctor and surgeon if you are pregnant. Also, inform them about all medications you’re taking, including those that are over the counter. You may have to stop taking certain medications before the surgery, specifically blood thinners.

Several days to the surgery, your doctor will draw blood. This will determine your blood type in case you may need a transfusion during the procedure.

You will also need to fast and stop drinking water prior to your surgery.

What is the long-term outlook?

Recovery after surgical treatment should take between one to two months. You may need to stay in the hospital for up to seven days. Your surgeon will discuss the success of the surgery and any follow-up treatments you may need.

Your doctor will observe the function of your remaining kidney. The outlook is usually very good in cases where one kidney remains.

DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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