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ICD-10 code:
ICD-9 code: 55.4 55.5
MeSH D009392
Other codes:

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List of terms related to Nephrectomy

Steven C. Campbell, M.D., Ph.D.


Nephrectomy is the surgical removal of a kidney.


There are various indications for this procedure, such as renal cell carcinoma, a non-functioning kidney (which may cause high blood pressure) and a congenitally small kidney (in which the kidney is swelling, causing it to press on nerves which can cause pain in unrelated areas such as the back).

Nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma is rapidly being modified to allow partial removal of the kidney.

When one is donating a kidney for a kidney transplant, a nephrectomy is also performed on the patient.


The surgery is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision in the side of the abdomen to reach the kidney. Depending on circumstances, the incision can also be made midline. The ureter and blood vessels are disconnected, and the kidney is then removed.

The surgery can be done as open surgery, with one incision, or as a laparoscopic procedure, with three or four small cuts in the abdominal and flank area.

Recently, this procedure is performed through a single incision in the patient's belly-button. This advanced technique is called as Single Port Access Surgery.

After Care

Pain medication is often given to the patient after the surgery because of the painful location. An IV with fluids is administered.

Electrolyte balace and fluids are carefully monitored, because these are the functions of the kidneys. It is possible that the remaining kidney does not take over all functionality.

A patient has to stay in the hospital between 2 and 7 days depending on the procedure and complications.

Links and Sources

Drawings of the steps of the procedure
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Nephrectomy
Explanation of the surgery, the risks and the recovery