What is a Nephrectomy?
Nephrectomy (nephro = kidney, ectomy = removal) is the surgical extraction of a kidney. The procedure is complete to treat kidney cancer as well as other kidney diseases and injuries. Nephrectomy is also performed to extract a healthy kidney from a donor (either living or deceased) for transplantation.
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Types of Nephrectomy
There are two kinds of nephrectomy for a diseased kidney:
- Radical (complete) nephrectomy. During a complete nephrectomy, the urologic surgeon separates the entire kidney and often some additional structures, such as part of the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder (ureter), or other nearby structures such as the adrenal gland or lymph nodes.
- Partial nephrectomy. In partial nephrectomy, only the infected or injured portion of the kidney is separated
Why it's done
The most popular cause a urologic surgeon performs a nephrectomy is to remove a tumor from the kidney. These tumors are normally cancerous, but they can be noncancerous (benign). Sometimes a nephrectomy is required because of other kidney diseases.
- Filter wastes and excess fluid and electrolytes from your blood
- Produce urine
- Keep proper levels of minerals in your bloodstream
- Create hormones that help improve your blood pressure and that influence the number of circulating red blood cells
- Often a urologic surgeon performs a nephrectomy to separate a cancerous tumor or abnormal tissue extension in a kidney. The most basic kidney cancer in adults, renal cell carcinoma, starts in the cells that line the small tubes within your kidneys.Kidney tumors in children are rare. But when they occur, children are more likely to improve a type of kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumor, probably caused by the poor development of kidney cells.
The decision about how much kidney tissue to displace depends on:
- Whether a tumor is confined to the kidney
- Whether there is more than one tumor
- How much of the kidney is affected
- Whether cancer affects nearby tissue
- How well the other kidney functions
- Whether other diseases affect kidney function
- Overall kidney function
The urology surgeon makes a judgment based on the results of imaging tests, which may include:
- Computer-assisted tomography (CT), a specialized X-ray technology that produces images of thin cross-sectional views of soft tissues
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which applies a magnetic field and radio waves to produce cross-sectional views or 3-D images
- Ultrasound, an image of soft tissues produced with the use of sound waves