What is Nephrectomy?
Nephrectomy is the partial or total removal of a kidney. It is often needed where patients have kidney cancer, but may also need to be carried out if the kidney has stopped functioning properly.
There are two main types of nephrectomy – partial and radical. In a partial nephrectomy, only part of a kidney is removed, with the surgeon confining this to the disease or injured portion. In a radical nephrectomy, the entire diseased or injured kidney is taken out, as well as the ureter, which is the tube leading to the bladder. Furthermore, the adrenal gland and fatty tissue may also be removed.
In some cases, a bilateral nephrectomy is carried out, which is where both kidneys are removed.
Where a person is donating their kidney, it is called a donor nephrectomy.
A nephrectomy can be carried out under general anaesthetic through laparoscopic surgery, which is minimally invasive. A few small incisions are made to allow a laparoscope to be inserted in the abdominal wall. The kidney is then removed through another incision.
There are scenarios where an open nephrectomy is required, which is done under general anaesthetic but involves a cut in the abdomen or side of the abdomen. In some cases, a rib may have to be removed in order to allow the procedure to be performed.