DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Nephrectomy (nuh-FREK-tuh-me) is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of a kidney:
- Complete nephrectomy. During a complete (radical) nephrectomy, the surgeon removes the entire kidney.
- Partial nephrectomy. In a partial nephrectomy, the surgeon removes diseased tissue from a kidney and leaves healthy tissue in place.
A nephrectomy is most often done to treat kidney cancer or to remove a seriously damaged or diseased kidney. The surgeon may perform the procedure through a single large incision in the abdomen or side (open nephrectomy) or through a series of small incisions in the abdomen (laparoscopic nephrectomy).
In a donor nephrectomy, the surgeon removes a healthy kidney for transplant into a person who needs a functioning kidney.
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