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A laparoscopic nephrectomy is an operation to remove one of the two kidneys that sit at the back of the abdominal cavity. The kidneys make urine by filtering waste products and excess fluid from the blood. Urine drains from the kidneys, through the ureters into the bladder where it is stored until the person is ready to go to the toilet. A laparoscopic nephrectomy involves removing an entire kidney through keyhole incisions in the flank, the side of the body between the ribs and the hip.

A nephrectomy is usually done for one of two reasons, either for cancer of the kidney or because of a non- functioning kidney.

  • In the case of kidney cancer a radical laparoscopic nephrectomy is done. This is done in an attempt to rid the body of cancer by removing the entire kidney and adrenal gland, with its surrounding fat and attached vessels. In more advanced cases it may be done to stop continued bleeding from the effected kidney.
  • For non-functioning kidneys, which are either caused by large stones, a lack of blood supply or abnormal kidney structure, a simple laparoscopic nephrectomy is done. This is where only the kidney itself is taken and the adrenal gland and other structures are left behind. A simple nephrectomy is usually done to avoid recurrent infection and pain and the possibility of severe illness because of infection.