A nephrectomy or partial nephrectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of your kidney. Many people will live a normal, healthy life with only one kidney. Your urologist will perform tests to ensure that your other kidney is functioning normally before proceeding with surgery.
Common reasons for a nephrectomy include:
- cancer of the kidney
- very large kidney stones that have caused significant damage to the kidney
- non-functioning kidney causing problems like pain or infections
- kidney donation for transplant
The reason for your surgery will determine which type of nephrectomy will be performed:
- partial nephrectomy removes only part of the kidney
- radical nephrectomy (or total nephrectomy) is the removal of the whole kidney, the surrounding fat and possibly the adrenal gland
- nephroureterectomy is removal of the kidney as well as the ureter (the tube that drains into the bladder)
The surgery can be performed through an open method, laparoscopically (keyhole surgery) or using the da Vinci robotic-assisted method. Your surgeon will discuss which options are right for you. Not all kidneys are suitable for removal buy all methods.