A nephrectomy is the surgical removal of all (simple or radical nephrectomy) or part (partial nephrectomy) of the kidney. The procedure is done to treat kidney cancer
or to remove a seriously damaged kidney.
You have two kidneys and can live with part of one working kidney. If both kidneys are removed, you will need a kidney transplant or dialysis. During dialysis, a machine cleans your blood outside your body. If a nephrectomy is not possible, your doctor may recommend an arterial embolization
to shrink the tumor.
Learn more about different types of nephrectomy:
Partial nephrectomy is a surgery to remove part of your kidney when cancer is limited to one area. If one of your kidneys is damaged or has already been removed, your doctor may recommend a partial nephrectomy to try to retain function in the remaining kidney.
A simple nephrectomy is the removal of an entire kidney. If cancer has spread throughout your kidney, your doctor may recommend a simple nephrectomy. If your remaining kidney is healthy, you will not need dialysis or a transplant.
If cancer has spread beyond your kidney into surrounding lymph nodes and tissue, you may need a radical nephrectomy. In a radical nephrectomy, the kidney, adrenal gland, surrounding tissue and lymph nodes may be removed to prevent the cancer from spreading further. If your remaining kidney is healthy, you will not need dialysis or a transplant.