DefinitionIn a radical nephrectomy, the whole kidney is removed. In a partial nephrectomy, only the diseased piece of the kidney is removed.
Reasons for ProcedureKidney removal may need to be done because of:
- Birth defects
- Injuries to the kidney
- Kidney cancer
- Kidney donation for a transplant
Possible ComplicationsProblems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Blood clots
- Damage to nearby organs
- Reactions to the anesthesia
- Leakage of urine from the remaining kidney tissue, if only part of the kidney is removed
- High blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureYour blood type is checked. This is done in case a transfusion is needed before or after surgery. Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.Do not eat or drink after midnight before the procedure. You may need to take medication to cleanse your bowels.
AnesthesiaGeneral anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep during the procedure.
Description of ProcedureA tube called a catheter will be inserted into your bladder. An incision will be made in the abdomen or side of the abdomen. A rib may need to be removed to access the kidney. The tube from the kidney to the bladder is known as the ureter. If the whole kidney is being removed, the ureter and blood vessels will be cut before kidney will then be removed. If only part of the kidney is removed the ureter and blood vessels will be kept. The incision will be closed.
|Kidneys, Ureters, and Renal Blood Vessels|
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How Long Will It Take?Between 2-4 hours
How Much Will It Hurt?Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital StayThe typical hospital stay after a nephrectomy is 2-7 days. The exact length depends on the type of surgery. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications occur.
Post-procedure CareAt the HospitalIV fluids and pain medication will be given after surgery. Blood pressure, electrolytes, and fluid balance will all be carefully monitored to evaluate kidney function. A urinary catheter is often needed for a short time following surgery.You will be encouraged to move around and be cautiously active as symptoms allow.Preventing InfectionDuring your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
- Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incision
Call Your DoctorIt is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Signs of infection, including fever or chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you've been given
- Difficulty urinating
- Sudden weakness
National Cancer Institute
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
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Bartlett ST, Schweitzer EJ. Laparoscopic living donor nephrectomy for kidney transplantation. Dialysis and Transplantation.1999;28(6):318-331.
Dunn MD, Portis AJ, et al.Laparoscopic versus open radical nephrectomy: A 9-year experience. J Urol. 2000;164(4):1153-1159.
Fabrizio MD, Ratner LE, et al. Laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy. Johns Hopkins website. Available at http://urology.jhu.edu/surgical%5Ftechniques/nephrectomy/index.html. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Kidney cancer. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=24. Updated March 2013. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Park YH, Byun SS, et al. Comparison of hand-assisted laparoscopic radical nephrectomy with open radical nephrectomy for pT1-2 clear cell renal-cell carcinoma: a multi-institutional study. J Endourol. 2009;23(9):1485-1489.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2015
- Update Date: 01/23/2014