Laparoscopic Nephrectomy

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What Is Nephrectomy?

Your kidneys are an important pair of organs that remove waste from your blood by producing urine. They also function in regulating your blood pressure, electrolyte levels, and your body’s pH. Unfortunately, when something goes wrong with your kidneys, it can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, anemia, and overall poor health.

A nephrectomy is the surgical removal of a kidney, or part of a kidney. There are four types of nephrectomy procedures: a partial nephrectomy, when a portion of one kidney is removed; a simple nephrectomy, when all of one kidney is removed; a radical nephrectomy, when all of one kidney and the neighboring adrenal gland and lymph nodes is removed; and a bilateral nephrectomy, when both kidneys are removed.

Removal of a kidney may be performed when the kidney has cancer or the kidney has been damaged, whether by high blood pressure, infection, cysts, kidney stones, or severe trauma. Alternatively, kidney donation also requires a nephrectomy.

Laparoscopic Nephrectomy Procedure

In general, [laparoscopic surgeries](https://laparoscopic surgery) are less invasive than classic surgical procedures. Laparoscopy is performed through small incisions with the use of a laparoscope, which has a small camera on the end to allow for visualization inside the body, and slender tools, such as graspers and scalpels.

During a laparoscopic nephrectomy procedure, the surgeon uses the laparoscope to view the kidney and surrounding tissue. The kidney is isolated from the surrounding tissues and blood vessels, placed in a bag and pulled through another incision below the belly button.

Risks of the Procedure

As with any surgery, there are risks involved when under going removal of a kidney. The general risks of surgery include infection, bleeding, blood clots, and adverse reactions from anesthesia. The risks specific to a nephrectomy include kidney failure of the remaining kidney if overworked due to disease or impaired function.

A laparoscopic nephrectomy is less invasive than traditional surgical techniques and some advantages of laparoscopy are smaller incisions, less exposure of internal organs to external equipment, and less blood loss and transfusions. Following the surgery, there is often less pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster healing times.

Although there are significant advantages to laparoscopic nephrectomy procedure, the surgery lasts longer than traditional surgery, so more time is spent under general anesthesia. This can exacerbate difficulties with anesthetics. The smaller working space without an open viewing area can also raise the risks of injuries to surrounding organs and blood vessels.

Overall, the complication rate of laparoscopic nephrectomy surgeries is similar to the rate of traditional nephrectomy surgeries. This fact, paired with the advantages of laparoscopy, pushes the field of laparoscopic surgery forward, and as more surgeons perform this procedure the techniques will improve as well.

References and Further Information

To find out more about kidney disease, please go to the National Kidney Foundation website.

See also: Robotic Nephrectomy.

The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with your physician before taking any products or following any advice you have read on

Encyclopedia of Surgery: Nephrectomy

Encyclopedia of Surgery: Nephrectomy Transperitoneal Laparoscopic Radical Nephrectomy

Wikipedia: Laparoscopic Surgery