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Kidney removal, also called nephrectomy, is a surgical procedure to remove a kidney.

Kidney removal may be done as open surgery, which involves a large cut in the side of the abdomen. Some patients may have laparoscopic surgery, which is less invasive and involves three or four small cuts, usually no more than an inch each, in the abdominal and flank areas.


Kidney removal may be recommended for

  • Birth defects (congenital abnormalities)
  • Injury (trauma)
  • Infection
  • Hypertension
  • Tumor
  • Chronic Bleeding

Kidney removal is also performed on someone who donates a kidney for a kidney transplant.

  Laparoscopic Nephrectomy Open Nephrectomy
Incision Three half-inch incisions in the abdomen; one 2.5 to 3 inch incision low in the abdomen, in the bikini area. No muscle is cut during any of these incisions. A 6 to 10 inch muscle cutting incision on the side of the abdomen; frequently requires removal of one rib
Length of hospital stay 1 to 2 days 3 to 5 days

Less scarring after surgery. Less discomfort and decreased need for pain medication

Increased scarring after surgery. Greater need for pain medication
Return to normal activity 2 to 4 weeks 8 to 12 weeks

Laparoscopic Nephrectomy

Laparoscopic Nephrectomy
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