This operation is carried out for patients with either a tumour of the kidney (radical nephrectomy) or for a problematic kidney (simple nephrectomy). In general, kidney tumours are only treated by radical nephrectomy when they are of a sufficient size to raise concerns about the risk of spread. Mr Keeley will discuss all of the options available as part of your consultation.
When surgery is recommended, Mr Keeley prefers to perform it using laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery in order to minimise the risk of complications and the time needed to recover. He will discuss the procedure in detail with you at the time of a consultation as well as on the day of surgery. You will need a general anaesthetic and will meet the consultant anaesthetist on the day of surgery.
The operation is carried out with 3 or 4 small incisions in the upper abdomen. The kidney is detached from its blood supply and the ureter using fine instruments, then removed through either one of the laparoscopic incisions or through a separate one. The kidney is typically removed intact in order to allow for an accurate histological analysis.
You will have a catheter in to drain urine from your bladder during the procedure. This may be removed while you are still under the anaesthetic or the following morning. Blood tests are carried out the following day to see if your remaining kidney is functioning properly.
You will be sent home a few days after the operation, provided you are well. Mr Keeley will advise you on what you should and should not do after you are home.
You will be reviewed by Mr Keeley in outpatients a few weeks later to check on your recovery and discuss the histological findings of the kidney. You might consider bringing along a family member for support.
For further information, here are links to leaflets produced by the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). Mr Keeley helped produce the leaflet for the RCS.
RCS general information about your recovery