Nephrectomy is a procedure during which all (radical nephrectomy) or part (partial nephrectomy) of the kidney is removed. Occasionally, some of the surrounding structures may also be removed during the procedure, such as lymph nodes, adrenal gland, or part of the ureter.
Nephrectomy may be performed for a variety of reasons, the most common being for cancer. Sometimes it may be necessary to remove a benign (non-cancerous) tumour, or to remove a diseased or very damaged kidney or part of the kidney.
Nephrectomy for Cancer Treatment
Nephrectomy is often performed to remove a cancerous tumour or abnormal growth on the kidney.
There are a number of factors that the urological surgeon needs to consider when it comes to decide whether to perform a radical or partial nephrectomy. These factors include:
- Whether the tumour is confined to the kidney
- Whether or not there is more than one tumour
- How much of the kidney is affected
- Whether or not the cancer is affecting nearby tissues and structures
- How well the patient’s other kidney functions
- Whether there are other diseases affecting the kidney function
- The overall function of the affected kidney.
What does the nephrectomy procedure involve?
The vast majority of patients undergoing a nephrectomy – whether that be a radical or partial nephrectomy – will have the procedure performed using a laparoscopic or robotic-assisted laparoscopic approach.
The urological surgeons at Melbourne Urology Centre perform the most of their Melbourne nephrectomy cases with the assistance of the da Vinci surgical robot. This state of the art surgical equipment is under the control of the surgeon at all times, and offers both patients and surgeons a number of benefits.
In some cases, the urological surgeon may recommend that they perform an open procedure, in instances where there is a very large or very complex tumour that cannot safely be accessed and removed via laparoscopic or robotic approach.
Your urological surgeon will always have a comprehensive discussion with you in order to determine which surgical approach will be most appropriate for your nephrectomy. There are various considerations and individual patient factors that may make one approach more suitable than another.
Nephrectomy is performed with the patient under general anaesthetic for the duration of the procedure. Depending upon the type of surgical approach that the urologist is taking and the complexity of the procedure, the nephrectomy will typically take between 1 and 3 hours to complete.
What are the advantages of having laparoscopic and robotic-assisted nephrectomy?
There are several advantages for both the patient and the surgeon when a nephrectomy is performed laparoscopically with the assistance of the da Vinci robotic device.
For the patient, the robotic surgical approach offers the following benefits:
- Minimally invasive procedure
- Reduced bleeding
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recovery time.
For the surgeon:
- Excellent 3D high definition vision inside the patient’s body
- The use of very small and precise surgical instruments that allow a greater range of movements than the human hand can
- Overall enhanced dexterity and vision, enabling precision movements and control of the surgical instruments during the nephrectomy.
What can patients expect after having a nephrectomy?
Depending on the type of nephrectomy procedure that is performed, most patients can expect to stay in hospital for 3-7 nights.
For most patients, a urinary catheter is placed at the conclusion of the nephrectomy. This is a thin tube that runs from the bladder through to the urethra and outside of the body. It allows urine from the bladder to drain into a bag outside of the body.
Patients who’ve undergone a partial nephrectomy may also have a stent in place. This thin plastic tube runs from the kidney to the bladder. It relieves pressure, assisting the kidney to heal.
It is normal to experience some pain and discomfort following having a nephrectomy. This will be managed with medications.
All Melbourne Urology Centre patients receive comprehensive post-operative instructions after having a radical or partial nephrectomy. Your urologist will also provide you with any specific instructions that you need to follow, after your procedure. Our team is always available to answer any additional questions that you may have.
What are the expected outcomes following having a nephrectomy?
Generally, most people continue to function normally following a nephrectomy. Even if they have undergone a radical nephrectomy (where their entire kidney has been removed), the single remaining kidney is able to function normally. Your urologist may make some recommendations for the long term care/preventative instructions to protect the health of the remaining kidney.
Melbourne Urology Centre Nephrectomy Melbourne
Melbourne Urology Centre is comprised of a team of experienced, specialist urological surgeons who are experts at performing robotic-assisted partial- as well as radical nephrectomy in Melbourne.
If you would like further information on nephrectomy, please search under the ‘Kidney Conditions’ tab on our website, or complete the online contact form and a member of our administrative team will be in contact.
For patients wishing to make an appointment at Melbourne Urology Centre, please telephone our rooms on 1300 702 811. Please note that a referral from your family doctor will be required in order to secure a consultation time.