Nephrectomy

A nephrectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a kidney.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, supplements, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (creams, nasal sprays, or pills).

  • Previous problems with numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Reaction to anesthesia.

  • Problems breathing.

  • Injury to other organs.

  • Bleeding.

  • Infection.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • Your caregivers will review the procedure, the anesthesia being used, and what to expect after the procedure with you. It may be helpful to have a partner or family member listen to the surgeon with you.

  • Ask your caregiver about changing or stopping your regular medications.

  • Stop smoking if you smoke. You may be advised to undergo breathing procedures to prepare for your surgery.Your caregiver will schedule these treatments for you.

PROCEDURE

  • Kidney removal may be performed as open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, or robotic surgery.

  • An open surgery involves making a large surgical cut (incision) in your side.

  • A laparoscopic surgery involves using a thin lighted tube (laparoscope) to see the kidney through 3 or 4 small incisions in the abdomen.

  • A robotic surgery involves specialized equipment that allows the surgeon to further optimize what he or she can see and subsequent removal of the kidney. 

  • You will be given a medicine that makes you sleep (general anesthesia).

  • The surgeon may need to remove a rib to perform the procedure.

  • The ureter and blood vessels are cut away from the kidney and the kidney is removed.

  • The incision is then closed.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • It is normal to be sore for a couple of weeks following surgery.

  • Recovery will vary depending on the surgical approach used.

  • Open surgery will often require 4 to 6 weeks of progressive activity to allow the incision to heal properly.

  • Laparoscopic surgery will require significantly less healing time, usually 7 to 10 days before light activity can be resumed.

  • Robotic surgery will generally require the same healing time as laparoscopic surgery.