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Normal anatomy:

The kidneys are paired organs that lie posterior to the abdomen, in the area of the lower back. The kidneys make urine, which is transported from the kidneys to the bladder by the ureters.

Normal anatomy


Nephrectomy may be recommended for:

  • kidney deformities (birth defects: congenital abnormalities)
  • injury (trauma)
  • disease
  • infection
  • hypertension
  • tumor
  • removal of kidney from donor for kidney transplant



While the patient is deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), an incision is made in the abdomen or in the side of the abdomen (flank).



The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder (ureter) and the blood vessels are cut away from the kidney and the kidney is removed. The incision is then closed. This opoeration is called a nephrectomy.



Patients are generally in the hospital after surgery for 3-5 days. The removal of one kidney generally has no health consequences as long as the remaining kidney is functioning well. Some centers are now performing nephrectomies using laparoscopic surgical techniques.


Review Date: 9/7/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
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