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  • A nephrectomy (ne-FREK-to-me) is surgery to remove all or part of your kidney. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found under the ribs on each side of the upper abdomen. The kidneys remove wastes and other unwanted chemicals from the body. These wastes are flushed from the body in the form of urine. Above each kidney is an adrenal gland, which is an organ that makes hormones. Hormones are special substances that control some functions of your body. These adrenal glands may also be removed during nephrectomy.
    Urinary System
  • You may need a nephrectomy when your kidney is damaged. This may be caused by clogged blood vessels, kidney stones, infection, or kidney cancer. These conditions decrease your kidney's ability to control blood pressure and to completely remove harmful wastes from your body. With nephrectomy, your kidney problem may be treated and further damage to your remaining kidney prevented. Your signs and symptoms may decrease and you may resume your usual activities.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Ask your caregiver when you need to return to have your wound checked and the stitches removed.


  • Avoid doing hard activities, such as heavy lifting, pulling, and pushing. You may also need to limit your body movements, especially bending your back.
  • Ask your caregiver if and when you can play hard or contact sports.
  • Do not let your stitches get wet unless your caregiver says it is OK. Ask your caregiver when you will be allowed to bathe, shower, or swim.

Bathing with stitches:

Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions on when you can bathe. Gently wash the part of your body that has the stitches. Do not rub on the stitches to dry your skin. Pat the area gently with a towel. When the area is dry, put on a clean, new bandage as directed.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


  • You have trouble breathing or chest pain all of a sudden.
  • You have trouble having a bowel movement or passing urine.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your incisions are swollen, red, have pus coming from them, or they have come apart.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.