A nephrectomy can be radical or partial and may be the best choice for treating cancer or tumors.

Illnesses that impact the kidneys require specialized medical attention. Patients with kidney disorders may be unable to find relief with pain medications, antibiotics, and other non-invasive measures. Their only option for treatment could involve going through kidney surgery. Depending on the condition being treated, the patient might be advised to undergo surgical removal of the kidney, or a nephrectomy.

  • A nephrectomy is the surgical removal of a kidney.
  • A radical nephrectomy involves the removal of the whole kidney while a partial nephrectomy is the removal of part of the kidney.

Nephrectomies used to require invasive surgery that was difficult to recover from and involved a significant amount of pain. Today, however, surgeons opt to use laparoscopic or robotic-assisted technology in this type of procedure.

The benefits of laparoscopic, robotic-assisted surgery to remove part or all of a kidney make the operation worthwhile for many patients. The surgery could eliminate the tumors or cancers impacting their kidneys and also involves a shorter recovery time than more invasive methods of kidney surgery.


How is a Nephrectomy Performed?

A partial or radical nephrectomy is performed in the hospital and may require at least one or two overnight stays. It is performed under general anesthesia, meaning that you will not be awake during the operation. Once you are asleep, your surgeon will make a small incision in your abdomen.

Through the incision, the surgeon will insert the laparoscopic surgical device that allows him or her to see inside of the body. The lighted scope guides the surgeon as he or she guides the robotic-assisted device to the kidneys to remove part or all of the organ. Once the kidney is removed, the surgical devices are removed and the incisions are closed with surgical glue or sutures. You will be taken to a recovery unit to wake up from sedation.

The benefits of laparoscopic robotic-assisted nephrectomy include having a smaller incision, less pain, and a faster recovery period. You will be able to turn home quicker than you would with an invasive surgery.

Recovering from a Partial or Radical Nephrectomy

The entire recovery period for both a partial and radical nephrectomy lasts anywhere from three to six weeks. During that time, you may suffer from symptoms like diarrhea, gas, headache, and nausea.

You also may lack your normal energy level and may feel tired more often. These symptoms are normal and should dissipate after three to four weeks. As you recover, you should walk each day to avoid blood clots and pneumonia. You can typically return to work after four to six weeks after nephrectomy surgery.

A radical or partial nephrectomy may effectively treat kidney disorders like cancer or tumors. This type of surgery is less invasive and painful than it used to be thanks to laparoscopic, robotic-assisted technology.