A kidney can be removed either by open surgery approach or keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery.
Open surgery for kidney removal involves making a large cut (approximately 18 cm) under a general anaesthetic. Problems can be pain, risk of haemorrhage or infection, a hospital stay of 7 to 10 days, and a fairly long recovery with time off work.
The open surgical approach to kidney removal is now only used for complicated cases. However, kidney removal by laparoscopic surgery is occasionally inadvisable, or in a very few cases the surgeon will decide to complete the operation by using open surgery.
Keyhole surgery is the popular name for laparoscopic surgery, a modern technique in which operations are performed through three or four small incisions of around 1.5 cm, through which specific endoscopes are threaded. Read More at Laparoscopic Surgery
At the end of a keyhole laparoscopic nephrectomy one of the incisions will be enlarged to 5 or 8 cm to allow the surgeon to withdraw the kidney.
An endoscope is a long, thin, usually flexible tube, equipped with a fibre optic light and a video camera that relays enlarged images to a computer screen. Endoscopes used in keyhole surgery have other tools that cut, cauterise or carry:
A laparoscopic nephrectomy is also performed under a general anaesthetic.
The laparoscopic method of kidney removal has been shown to cause fewer complications, less blood loss, pain, and scarring and a significantly faster recovery time than the open surgery method.
Reasons for Kidney Removal:
- A kidney may be only partly working, or not working at all: if not removed it could be the source of repeated infections and kidney pain
- Kidney Cancer (in which case it is sometimes necessary to remove the adrenal gland, which lies on top of the kidney, at the same time)
- Infection may have damaged the kidney