Is Kidney Removal?
A nephrectomy is a major surgery to remove all or part of your
kidney. The kidneys are two small, bean-shaped organs in the abdomen. They
filter water and waste products from your blood. They also produce certain
A nephrectomy is done when:
- your kidney is damaged
- your kidney is no longer functioning properly
- you have kidney cancer
- you’re donating your kidney
Your doctor may remove your kidney through open surgery or
laparoscopically. Laparoscopic surgery involves
smaller incisions and has a faster recovery time. Recovering from a nephrectomy
can take several weeks. It may be very painful. As with any surgery,
complications such as infections are possible. However, the outlook is usually
Are the Reasons for Kidney Removal?
Removing part or all of a kidney is a very serious procedure, and
doctors consider it a last resort to preserving your health.
You may need to have part or all of your kidney removed if isn’t
functioning properly. Reasons for removal include damage or scarring. These may
be due to disease, injury, or infection. Cancer is another reason to remove a
kidney. If a kidney tumor is small and you catch it early, only part of your
kidney may need to be removed.
Donating a Kidney
Sometimes, 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
Are the Types of Kidney Removal Surgery?
There are several different types of nephrectomy.
A simple nephrectomy involves removing the entire kidney. Your
surgeon will make a cut up to 12 inches long in your side. The surgeon will cut
away your kidney’s blood vessels and its connections to your bladder. Your
surgeon will then remove the entire organ. They may need to remove a rib to
access your kidney.
This procedure involves removing only part of your kidney. The
procedure is very similar to a simple nephrectomy. However, your surgeon may be
able to use a smaller incision.
This technique 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 insert a camera and other small
instruments through the incisions. This will allow the surgeon to see inside
you and remove your kidney. This type of surgery is usually less painful than
open surgery. Recovery time is shorter as well.
Are the Risks of Kidney Removal?
There are risks associated with any major surgery. Complications
are rare, but they include:
- loss of blood
- heart attack
- allergic reaction to anesthesia or other
- the formation of a blood clot in your legs that
moves into your lungs, which is called a pulmonary embolism
- breathing difficulties
- infection at the surgical incision site
Other risks are specific to a nephrectomy. They include:
- an injury to other organs or tissues around your
- a hernia in which organs might bulge out of your
You may experience problems with the remaining kidney after
surgery. This is partly because people who need kidney surgery may have an
increased risk of other kidney diseases. These problems are less common in
Do I Prepare for Kidney Removal?
Be sure to tell your doctor and surgeon if you might be pregnant.
Also, inform them about all medications you’re taking, including those that are
over the counter. You may need to stop taking certain medications before the
surgery, especially blood thinners.
Several days before the surgery, your doctor will draw blood.
This will determine your blood type in case you need a transfusion during the
You will also need to fast and stop drinking liquids for a period
Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Recovery after surgery should take between three and six weeks.
You may need to stay in the hospital for up to seven days. Your doctor or
surgeon will discuss the success of the surgery and any follow-up treatments
you may need.
Your doctor will monitor the function of your remaining kidney. The
outlook is typically very good in cases where one kidney remains.