Nephrectomy (nuh-FREK-tuh-me) is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of a kidney:
- Radical (complete) nephrectomy. During a radical nephrectomy, the urologic surgeon removes the entire kidney and often some additional structures, such as part of the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder (ureter), or other adjacent structures such as the adrenal gland or lymph nodes.
- Partial nephrectomy. In a partial nephrectomy, also called kidney-sparing (nephron-sparing) surgery, the surgeon removes diseased tissue from a kidney and leaves healthy tissue in place.
Most often a nephrectomy is performed to treat kidney cancer or to remove a noncancerous (benign) tumor. In some cases, a nephrectomy is performed to deal with a diseased or seriously damaged kidney. In the case of a donor nephrectomy, the urologic surgeon removes a healthy kidney from a donor for transplant into a person who needs a functioning kidney.
The urologic surgeon may perform a nephrectomy through a single incision in the abdomen or side (open nephrectomy) or through a series of small incisions in the abdomen using a camera and small instruments (laparoscopic nephrectomy).
In some cases, these laparoscopic procedures are performed using a robotic system. In robotic surgery, the surgeon sits at a computer console near the operating table. He or she controls the camera arm and mechanical arms, which have surgical instruments attached to them that are working inside the patient’s body.
Mayo Clinic's approach to nephrectomy (kidney removal)
July 11, 2017
- Nephrectomy. National Kidney Foundation. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/nephrectomy. Accessed March 15, 2017.
- Leibovich BC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 8, 2017.
- Renal cell carcinoma. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/genitourinary-cancer/renal-cell-carcinoma. Accessed March 16, 2017.
- AskMayoExpert. Wilms tumor. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
- AskMayoExpert. Partial nephrectomy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
- Richie JP. Definitive surgical management of renal cell carcinoma. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 16, 2017.
- Richie JP, et al. Role of surgery in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 16, 2017.
- Tan HJ, et al. Long-term survival following partial vs. radical nephrectomy among older patients with early-stage kidney cancer. JAMA. 2012;307:1629.
- Abaza R, et al. Multi-institutional experience with robotic nephrectomy with inferior vena cava tumor thrombectomy. The Journal of Urology. 2016;195:865.
- Stewart-Merrill SB, et al. Oncologic surveillance after surgical resection for renal cell carcinoma: A novel risk-based approach. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2015;33:4151.
- Kim SP, et al. Approach to the small renal mass: To treat or not to treat. Urologic Clinics of North America. 2012;39:171.
- Patton MW, et al. Robot-assisted partial nephrectomy for complex renal masses. Journal of Robotic Surgery. 2016;10:27.
- Zaid HB, et al. Outcomes following complete surgical metastasectomy for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Urology. 2017;197:44.
- Your kidneys and how they work. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work. Accessed May 10, 2017.
- Solitary kidney. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/solitary-kidney. Accessed May 10, 2017.
Nephrectomy (kidney removal)