Nephrectomy (Kidney Removal)-Procedure, Recovery


Nephrectomy is the term used to remove the kidney or part of it surgically. The first successful kidney removal was done by a German surgeon, Gustav Simon. Although there were earlier pursuits on this procedure, this is the first time that the patient survived. Also most physicians used to practice on animals to perfect this procedure since it possesses quite a risk for humans.

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Types of Nephrectomy

There are three types of nephrectomy depending on the extent of the surgery done.

• First type is the partial. This is the removal of just a specific part of the kidney while leaving the rest of the kidney intact. This is mainly used for localized tumor and cyst.

• Another type is the simple nephrectomy. In this procedure the whole kidney is removed; however, the surrounding tissues remain intact. This is done for a nonfunctional kidney that has major injury or damage such as those with stone, obstruction and infection. Also when the kidney is inflamed it could press on the nerves causing excruciating pain and it is mainly the reason why the whole should be taken off. This is also done if the person consents on donating his kidney for transplant.

• Lastly, there is radical surgery in which the kidney as well as the surrounding tissues and adrenal glands are removed. This is for renal cell carcinoma that has metastasized almost throughout the kidney. This is done to prevent further spread of cancer cells to any part of the body. Since the adrenal gland is removed, person having this procedure is put on hormone therapy until condition stabilizes or even throughout life.

Purpose and Procedure of Nephrectomy

The kidneys are fist-sized organs located on the upper back of the abdomen. It holds a significant function in the body. It regulates water and electrolyte balance, filters and excretes wastes, and produces red blood cells for proper blood circulation. Without the kidneys, the body might as well be a toxic wasteland. In saying so, a nonfunctional kidney could also lead to serious conditions including sepsis. It is also the responsibility of the kidney to maintain the adequate concentration of minerals such as sodium and potassium among many others. Any fluctuation on these could cause organ malfunction.

Since it was proven that a person could live with only one kidney, kidney removal has been widespread all throughout the world. This should not be taken lightly as this could be dangerous and even fatal. This is the reason that hospitals performing nephrectomy has strict guidelines to follow before one can submit to the procedure. This is done as the last choice of treatment upon which all other treatment has been exhausted.

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Prior to the nephrectomy, several diagnostics tests are done to ensure that the person can withstand the procedure. This includes blood works and radiologic examinations. Surgery lasts about 2-3 hours. Required hospital stay days after the surgery range from 4 to 7 days depending on the general physical condition of the patient and the type of nephrectomy done. Total recuperation period take up to 6 weeks. However, pain on the incision site during coughing or deep breathing might still lasts for months.

Nephrectomy and Kidney Transplant

People who volunteered to undergo kidney transplant has to go on a different set of tests to ensure that they are suitable candidates. There are strict criteria to follow if you plan to donate your kidneys. One should be at least 18 years old and in generally good physical and mental health. Also, it should be made sure that the two kidneys are functioning well. The donor should have no history of blood, kidney and heart problems.

During the procedure, it is made sure that supple amount of blood with the same type as that of the patient is readily available in case bleeding should occur. Hemorrhage is one of the most common complications in nephrectomy procedure. Other complications include infection and the most fatal is kidney failure of the remaining kidney.

After Nephrectomy (Recovery)

People who only have one kidney have to take good care of it. They are scheduled to have annual examinations for their kidney functions. These include blood pressure, waste filtration and urine protein level monitoring.

One can still live a normal lifestyle after nephrectomy with light to moderate intensity activities. Contact sports on the other hand should be avoided as this can cause kidney trauma. They also have to shift to a healthier lifestyle, one that involves stimulating the physical as well as the mental well being. Always take medications as directed by the physician and report any changes immediately. Stick to vegetables, fruits and low-fat meals. Limit intake of salt as this could cause stone formation in your kidney. High-protein foods can also be taxing for the kidney, reduce intake on those. Try to eliminate caffeine or alcoholic beverages as this can affect the kidney function. Remember, don’t take any chances if there is only one kidney as there is no more that can be done without it.

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