Laparoscopic Nephrectomy

What is a laparoscopic nephrectomy?

This procedure involves removing the kidney through ‘key hole’ surgery. The procedure is most commonly performed to remove cancer, but may be indicated to remove a kidney severely damaged by obstruction, stones, or infection. The procedure is performed through 3 or 4 incisions in the front of the abdomen, or the back, depending on specific technique used. If the kidney is removed for cancer, one incision is enlarged to 6 – 8 cm to allow removal of the kidney intact for further analysis. If it is too difficult to complete the surgery laparoscopically, a larger cut is made to remove the kidney through more traditional open surgery. This is necessary in around 5% of cases.

How long does it take?

2 – 3 hours under a general anaesthetic

What are the risks?

  • Infection – uncommon
  • Bleeding/blood transfusion – uncommon
  • Damage to bowel/spleen/liver – very rare
  • Wound pain hernias – rare

What can I expect after surgery?

  • Hospital stay is 2 – 4 days
  • Pain after surgery should be controlled with oral pain killers
  • Most people will be eating, drinking and out of bed the next day
  • Recovery at home and avoid strenuous physical activity for at least 3 weeks
  • Initial follow-up at 6-8 weeks, with further follow-up as instructed at that visit, depending on the precise reason for your surgery

Living with one kidney

One kidney can easily support a normal and active life. There is no need to limit activities or lifestyle.