Nephrectomy (Kidney Removal)

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In a radical nephrectomy, your doctor removes the entire kidney. In a partial nephrectomy, your doctor only removes a piece of the kidney.

You may need kidney removal because of:

  • Birth defects
  • Injuries to the kidney
  • Infection
  • Tumor
  • Kidney donation for a transplant

Nephrectomy Procedure at UVA Health

At UVA Health, you'll find urology surgeons highly skilled in nephrectomy. They're part of the reason we've earned a top ranking for urology care.

Our surgeons are well trained in robotic-assisted nephrectomy. Learn more about the benefits of robotic-assisted urologic procedures.

Robotic surgery isn't right for everyone. We'll do what's best for you. This may be with:

  • Traditional surgery that requires a larger incision
  • Laparoscopy surgery done through several small keyhole incisions

A nephrectomy takes between 2-4 hours. A typical hospital stay after a nephrectomy is 2-7 days. The exact length depends on the type of surgery. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications occur.

Care After Your Procedure

At the Hospital

You'll receive IV fluids and pain medication after surgery. Your care team will monitor your blood pressure, electrolytes and fluid balance. You may need a urinary catheter for a short time following surgery.

At Home

Avoid difficult exercise or activities for about six weeks. Ask your doctor about when it's safe to shower, bathe or soak in water.

You may need hemodialysis or a kidney transplant if your doctor removes both kidneys.

Call Us If You Have Any Nephrectomy Complications

Your doctor will review a list of possible short-term complications. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to nearby organs
  • Reactions to the anesthesia
  • Leakage of urine from the remaining kidney tissue, if only part of the kidney is removed

Long-term complications from decreased kidney function may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic kidney disease

Things that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Prior kidney surgery
  • Obesity
  • Alcoholism
  • Poor nutrition

At UVA Health, you'll have experts to help address any complications and help restore your health.