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What are the steps involved in having a kidney removed?

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Simple nephrectomy involves making an incision up to 12 inches and removing an entire kidney, while partial nephrectomy involves creating a smaller cut and removing only part of a kidney, explains Healthline. During laparoscopic surgery, a doctor makes several tiny cuts instead of a single long incision, inserts an instrument with a camera at the edge, and then removes a portion of the kidney or all of it.

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Kidney removal requires general anesthesia for a painless procedure, according to Mayo Clinic. Before surgery, a doctor places a urinary catheter, which is a thin tube capable of draining urine from the bladder. The patient remains unconscious during surgery.

Open surgery sometimes requires the removal of a lower rib to enable the doctor to remove the kidney properly, reports Mayo Clinic. During radical nephrectomy, the doctor removes an entire kidney along with nearby fatty tissues and part of the tube linking the kidney and the bladder. Through the use of robotic systems and tools, robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery allows a doctor to view internal organs clearly and remove diseased tissue accurately.

Laparoscopic surgery causes less pain compared to simple or partial nephrectomy, and it requires a shorter recovery period, notes Healthline. Depending on the type of kidney removal surgery, a patient may need up to seven days in the hospital, and typically recovers within three to six weeks.

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