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Renal Surgery

Renal Surgery, also known as Nephrectomy, involves the removal of a kidney. Depending on the condition, your surgeon might opt for a partial nephrectomy to excise only a portion of the kidney, or a radical nephrectomy, which entails removing the entire kidney. This procedure is often crucial for individuals battling kidney disease or cancer, potentially saving lives.



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What is a Renal Surgery?

Renal Surgery, or Nephrectomy, involves the surgical removal of one kidney. Bilateral nephrectomy is the procedure for removing both kidneys.

There are two primary types of nephrectomy procedures:

1. Partial nephrectomy: In this approach, the surgeon removes only the diseased portion of the kidney. This can be done through an open surgery or a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure.

2. Radical nephrectomy: This procedure involves the complete removal of the entire kidney. Surgeons may also excise a segment of the ureter (the tube leading to the bladder) in a nephroureterectomy. Additionally, they may remove the adrenal glands, which are hormone glands positioned above the kidneys. Radical nephrectomy can be performed through an open surgery or a laparoscopic approach.

What is the distinction between laparoscopic and open surgery?

In nephrectomies, surgeons employ two distinct techniques. Laparoscopic nephrectomy utilizes a small tool equipped with a camera (laparoscope) and several minor incisions, while open nephrectomy involves a single large incision, allowing surgeons a direct view inside the body without the aid of a camera.

Laparoscopic nephrectomy often results in shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times. However, surgeons may resort to open surgery if laparoscopic methods are impractical. For instance, laparoscopic procedures sometimes necessitate prolonged anesthesia, which may not be well-tolerated by certain individuals. Moreover, in cases involving large kidney tumors, where minimally-invasive techniques may not be the most suitable option, an open approach might be considered safer.


What is the Purpose of Kidney Removal?

Renal Surgery (Nephrectomy) is typically undertaken for several reasons:

1. Tumor Removal: The primary indication for nephrectomy is to extract a tumor from the kidney. These tumors can either be cancerous or benign.

2. Chronic Infections or Non-functioning Kidneys: In cases where the kidney is a recurrent site of infections or has ceased to function properly, nephrectomy may be necessary.

3. Kidney Donation: Nephrectomies are also performed to procure a healthy kidney for donation purposes.


Procedure Detail and Preparation Steps


What occurs prior to a renal surgery?

Prior to undergoing kidney surgery, preparatory measures are essential. Our Urologist will provide specific instructions on how to prepare. This typically involves discontinuing certain medications, such as blood thinners, in the days leading up to the operation. Moreover, Our surgeon may advise fasting (abstaining from food) and refraining from liquids the night before the procedure.

A few days before the scheduled surgery, blood will be drawn by our specialist. This serves multiple purposes, including determining your blood type for potential transfusions and establishing baseline kidney function and blood counts.

What occurs during a renal surgery procedure?

The procedure can be conducted through laparoscopic or open surgery. Prior to either method, you'll be administered general anesthesia to ensure you're comfortably unconscious throughout.

In a laparoscopic nephrectomy, your surgeon:

1. Creates one or several small incisions in your abdomen or side.
2. Introduces a long, camera-equipped wand (laparoscope) through the incision.
3. Observes the camera feed on a large screen.
4. Utilizes the camera and specialized surgical instruments to excise the affected portion of your kidney or the entire organ.
5. Seals all incisions with dissolvable stitches.

In an open nephrectomy, your surgeon:

1. Makes a single incision in your abdomen.
2. Removes the affected portion of your kidney or the entire kidney.
3. Closes the incision with stitches.

What occurs after a renal surgery?

After undergoing Renal Surgery, your hospital stay typically ranges from one to five days, contingent upon the type of nephrectomy performed.

During this time, our medical team will closely monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, electrolyte levels, and fluid balance. It's common to require a urinary catheter for the initial days post-surgery to facilitate urine drainage.

Expect some discomfort and numbness around the incision site initially. Our doctor will provide necessary pain management support.

Given the proximity of the incision to the diaphragm, deep breathing might be uncomfortable. However, engaging in diaphragmatic breathing exercises is crucial for preventing potential complications like pneumonia.

Recovery and Outlook

What is the expected recovery period following a renal surgery?

Upon returning home, you may resume light activities within one to two weeks. However, it's important to refrain from heavy lifting or vigorous exertion for a minimum of six weeks.

Following this initial recovery period, blood tests will be necessary to monitor the functionality of your remaining kidney. Our Urologist will provide guidance on the frequency of these tests.


When to Consult a Doctor?

It's crucial to reach out to us or seek urgent medical attention if you encounter any symptoms suggestive of kidney failure, such as:

  • Alterations in urination patterns, like increased frequency or changes in urine color.

  • Swelling (edema) observed in the legs, lower back, or face.

  • Gradually rising blood pressure.

  • Experiencing nausea or vomiting.

  • Cognitive symptoms like brain fog.

Additional Information

Post-Nephrectomy Lifestyle Changes

Wondering how life might shift after kidney removal? For those left with just one kidney, continuous monitoring of kidney function becomes crucial. This involves regular urinalysis (urine-screening tests) and blood tests, typically scheduled at least annually.

Moreover, certain activities that heighten the risk of kidney injury should be avoided. Engaging in high-contact sports like hockey, football, or wrestling is not recommended to mitigate potential harm.

A Message from NU Urology and Andrology Clinics

In a nephrectomy, surgeons extract either all or a portion of your kidney. This procedure may be employed by our healthcare expert to eliminate a tumor. Generally, you can anticipate resuming normal activities approximately six weeks post-surgery. Following a nephrectomy, ongoing monitoring is crucial to ensure the proper functioning of your remaining kidney.

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