Life expectancy (prognosis and outlook) after kidney removal can vary. The answer is also dependent on several factors. But overall, the prognosis is pretty good. Another thing to remember that there is no any statistic or data that can tell you exactly what will happen – each case is unique!
Nephrectomy is a common term used to call surgery that removes part or all of a kidney. And there are a number of reasons why some people need to take this kind of surgery.
Nephrectomy can be partial or complete, depending on the severity of the kidney problem,
- Partial nephrectomy. As the name suggests, it only removes diseased /damaged part of the kidney, leaving in place as much healthy tissue as possible.
- Complete nephrectomy. Sometimes this kind of surgery is required to remove the entire kidney.
What is it for?
Kidney removal surgery is usually used to treat a seriously diseased /damaged kidney such as due to:
- Kidney cancer.
- Birth defects.
- Kidney stones, infection, or other problems.
- Serious trauma (very bad injury) in the kidney may also cause permanent damage.
A few people also need it for kidney transplantation, a procedure that removes a healthy kidney from a donor to a patient who needs a functioning kidney. Nephrectomy may also be required to help control hypertension (high blood pressure) in a patient with a problem of blood supply to the kidney.
What to expect during the procedure?
First, you need to drain urine from your bladder with urinary catheter. Then you need to take general anesthesia so thus you will not feel pain or awake during surgery.
There are number of different nephrectomy procedures. These include:
- Open surgical procedure. In this procedure, you will have an incision (cut) on the abdomen or along the side – usually among your lower ribs, especially on the side of the damaged /diseased kidney. If necessary, a lower rib is removed so thus the surgeon gains better access to your kidney.
- Laparoscopic surgical procedure (a minimally invasive surgery). First, you will have a few small incisions (typically in the abdomen) so your surgeon can insert wand-like devices that have small cameras and small surgical tools. If surgeon needs to remove the entire kidney, he/she can make a somewhat larger opening.
- Other procedures are radical nephrectomy and robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery.
Each procedure has pros and cons. But in general, the smaller cuts in laparoscopic and robotic surgical procedure are less painful after surgery and will recover more quickly!
What to prepare before surgery?
First, you will discuss with your doctor /surgeon about what best options are available for you. In this discussion, you can ask some of the following important things:
- The decision of whether you need to take a complete or just a partial nephrectomy?
- Is a minimally invasive surgical procedure (laparoscopic surgery) your option?
- Are there any other treatments involved?
- The potential risk of each treatment you take.
You usually will also get specific instructions about what to do the day before surgery and the day of surgery such as;
- When you should begin fasting.
- Whether you need to take prescription medicines before surgery.
- About particular medicines (nonprescription) you may need to avoid.
And if you’re planning for a donor nephrectomy (donating your kidney for a transplant), you will have some tests to make sure that you’re a good /suitable candidate.
You usually need to stay in the hospital for a few days, depending on several factors such as the kind of surgical procedure you take and your overall health. Meanwhile, you use a urinary catheter for a short time during recovery. For more detailed information about your probable recovery time, ask your doctor /surgeon!
And before leaving the hospital, expect to get instructions about restrictions to your activities and diet. When you’re ready – you may be encouraged to start light-activities in your daily routines, but typically it’s still suggested to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for several weeks.
How about the life expectancy of people with kidney removal?
The good news, the outcome is good in most cases – especially if you still have a single, one-healthy kidney. For more detailed information about the prognosis and outlook of living with one kidney, see also this post!
Many people with one kidney can still alive normally and healthy. But they need to be more careful to look after the remaining kidney. The problem usually comes if a single remaining kidney doesn’t run well enough or if both kidneys are removed. For such case, dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant is required.
What else to concern? The surgical procedure to remove the kidney also carries some potential risks – these include: