How is nephrectomy surgery done?

Some people who require a nephrectomy (surgical removal of a kidney) are suitable for laparoscopic surgery (also called minimally invasive surgery). Laparoscopic surgery involves the use of a laparoscope (wand-like camera) that is passed through a series of small incisions (ports) in the abdominal wall. It is used to view the abdominal cavity and remove the kidney through a small incision. The procedure is done under general anesthesia (you are asleep and do not feel any pain). You will require a bladder catheter that is placed once you are asleep. This will be removed several hours after surgery.

Laparoscopy achieves the same results as traditional surgical techniques and can be used for both radical and partial surgery. It is also the preferred method for kidney transplant donor nephrectomy.

The advantages of laparoscopic surgery include:
  • shorter recovery time
  • shorter hospital stay
  • smaller incisions
  • fewer postoperative complications
Laparoscopic nephrectomy takes special skills to perform and is not available at all hospitals. Also, whether you can have laparoscopic surgery depends on your medical condition and overall health. Speak to your doctor about your options for laparoscopic nephrectomy.

Open nephrectomy is rarely required but is also done under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes a cut (incision) in the abdomen or in the side of the abdomen (flank area). A rib may need to be removed to perform the procedure. The ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder) and the blood vessels are cut away from the kidney and the kidney is removed. The incision is then closed with stitches.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.