What are the indications of Nephrectomy? When to remove a kidney? My one side kidney is not working. Should I get it removed? Can an affected kidney also affect another kidney?

What is Nephrectomy?

The surgical removal of a kidney is known as a nephrectomy, and it is used to treat a variety of kidney diseases, including kidney cancer. The treatment is used to treat kidney cancer and other illnesses and accidents affecting the kidneys. 

It is also done as part of a kidney transplant surgery to extract a normal healthy kidney from a live or deceased donor.

Types of Nephrectomy:

For a sick kidney, there are two forms of Nephrectomy: partial and radical. 

  • Only the damaged or injured section of the kidney is removed in partial Nephrectomy. 
  • The whole kidney and a piece of the tube leading to the bladder (ureter), the gland that sits above the kidney (adrenal gland), and the fatty tissue surrounding the kidney are removed during radical Nephrectomy.

Indications of Nephrectomy:

  • Recurrent or severe infection, 
  • severe renal bleeding, persistent pain, and 
  • Renal cancer. 

To avoid the anephric condition, pretransplant Nephrectomy is typically avoided. Only if an ADPKD kidney is sufficiently big to interfere with the donor kidney’s implantation location if the native kidneys are often infected or hemorrhaging, or if a solid tumor cannot be ruled out could a pre transplant nephrectomy be considered. 

Compared to open Nephrectomy, which is linked with high morbidity and mortality, hand-assisted laparoscopic Nephrectomy is a practical and safe technique. Renal cell cancer, a non-functioning kidney (which can cause high blood pressure), and a congenitally small kidney are all reasons for this treatment.

Potential risks of Nephrectomy?

Infection is a possibility with all procedures. There is a modest chance of renal failure if your remaining kidney is diseased or damaged.

Advantages of Nephrectomy:

A nephrectomy can save a person’s life if they have kidney cancer. Your donor kidney can save someone else’s life if you have a nephrectomy to remove a kidney for donation. With only one kidney, the majority of people can function normally.

Recovery time:

Within a week or two of returning home, you may be ready to resume modest activities. For at least six weeks, you must refrain from heavy lifting or intense exertion. Blood tests will be required after six weeks to check the function of your remaining kidney. The frequency of these tests will be determined by your healthcare professional.

What is Kidney Removal?

A nephrectomy is a significant operation that involves the removal of all or part of your kidney. In the stomach, the kidneys are two tiny bean-shaped organs. They filter your blood for water and waste materials. They also make several hormones.

A nephrectomy is done when: 

  • kidney is damaged 
  • the kidney is no longer functioning properly 
  • kidney cancer 
  • while donating your kidney

When should the kidney be removed?

  • If the enlarged, non-functioning kidney does not contain stones, a tumor, or an infection that may be deadly if left inside the body, it does not always need to be removed. A non-functioning kidney rarely causes harm to the normal kidney on the other side. 
  • However, if the kidney is infected and contains stones, it may become a source of more extensive infection, resulting in general health issues. Some obstructive kidneys secrete hormones that raise blood pressure and impact the healthy kidney on the opposite side. It is, however, an extremely uncommon occurrence. It’s crucial to figure out what’s causing the stumbling block.
  • Your doctor may do open surgery or laparoscopic surgery to remove your kidney. Laparoscopic surgery provides a shorter recovery period and requires fewer incisions. 
  • It might take many weeks to recover following a nephrectomy. It might be excruciatingly uncomfortable. Complications such as infections are possible with any operation. The prognosis, on the other hand, is typically highly favorable.

Two main reasons for removing a kidney:

  • Damaged Kidney: If your kidney isn’t working correctly, you may need to remove part or all of it. Damage or scarring are among the reasons for removal. These might be the result of an illness, an accident, or an infection. Another cause to remove a kidney is cancer. If you identify a kidney tumor early enough, only a portion of your kidney may need to be removed.
  • Donating a Kidney: A healthy kidney is occasionally donated to someone who needs a new kidney. Kidney transplants from living donors are more successful than those from deceased donors. Even if you only have one kidney, you can live a healthy life.

Can you live with one kidney?

Although most individuals have two kidneys, you only need one working kidney to live a healthy and active life. Because you only have one kidney, it’s critical to safeguard it and keep it in good working order because you don’t have a second to take over if the first fails.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating balanced food, exercising frequently, and seeing your doctor regularly, can help keep your kidneys in good shape.

What’s it like only to have one kidney rather than two?

Your kidneys filter waste and excess fluid from your blood so that it may be expelled through urine. One kidney is capable of filtering enough blood to keep your body running smoothly. It is why you can live with only one kidney and be healthy.

The guidelines for living a healthy lifestyle if you only have one kidney are essentially the same as for persons who have two kidneys. They are as follows:

  • eating a healthy diet 
  • exercising regularly 
  • maintaining a healthy weight 
  • staying hydrated
  • maintaining normal blood pressure and blood sugar (managing high blood pressure or diabetes if they develop)
  • Checking up with your doctor regularly

Why do people have a single kidney?

There are three major reasons why someone may only have one kidney:

  • A person may be born with only one kidney. 
  • Renal agenesis is the medical term for this disorder. 
  • Kidney dysplasia is a disorder in which a person is born with two kidneys but only one function. 

Most persons born without a kidney (or with only one functioning kidney) live regular, healthy lives. One kidney may have been removed during surgery to treat an injury or a condition such as cancer. One of a person’s kidneys may have been donated to a person who required a kidney transplant. Furthermore, if you have a solitary kidney, you need to take particular precautions to function correctly. 

It includes the following:

  • defending it from harm
  • avoiding potentially dangerous medicines

What if I only had one “functioning” kidney when I was born?

Most persons who have a single, healthy kidney have minimal issues. However, some people have had long-term problems. Some persons born with a single kidney or who had a kidney removed as a child may have some renal function loss later in life. It usually takes at least 25 years for this to happen. There’s also a potential that you’ll develop high blood pressure later in life. 

However, renal function loss is generally minor, and life expectancy is average. The majority of people who only have one kidney live healthy, typical lives with minimal issues. To put it another way, one healthy kidney can do the job of two.

Is it possible for one transplanted kidney to perform as well as two?

Yes. A transplanted kidney can potentially grow in size and function, according to tests. Most persons with a single kidney have regular lives with no long- or short-term complications.

However, if you only have one kidney instead of two, your chances of having moderate hypertension, fluid retention, and proteinuria are somewhat increased. Because a second kidney may compensate and compensate for a kidney that has lost some function, this is the case.

Because it has no backup, a single kidney’s lack of function may cause proteinuria, fluid retention, or high blood pressure sooner than if you had two kidneys.

When should someone who only has one kidney see a doctor?

Your kidney function should be examined at least once a year. A basic urine test and a simple blood test will be used by your healthcare professional to assess your kidney function. Your blood pressure should be monitored at least once a year

Is there a risk of short- or long-term complications if you have one kidney?

Your kidneys are responsible for regulating your body’s fluid balance, keeping protein in your blood, and controlling your blood pressure.

If your kidneys cease functioning, you may have the following symptoms:

  • high blood pressure develops (hypertension)
  • protein loss in the urine (proteinuria)
  • keep the fluid

Will you have to stick to a specific diet?

A particular diet is not required for most persons who have one healthy kidney. There may be certain limits if you undergo a kidney transplant due to renal disease or kidney failure. Most individuals with a single kidney don’t need to follow a specific diet, but you should eat a healthy, balanced diet just like people with two kidneys.

  • Keeping an average level of hydration and drinking when thirsty is preferable to dehydration or overhydration.
  • You may need to reduce salt, phosphorus, and protein in your diet if you have a single kidney due to a transplant or if you have renal disease. 
  • It is because your kidneys don’t do an excellent job of removing them from your blood, so they build up.
  • It’s also possible that you’ll have to cut back on your hydration intake.
  • Consult your doctor about your nutritional requirements and dietary restrictions.

Are you going to require dialysis?

Dialysis filters your blood and removes waste and excess fluid, performing the function of your kidney. It’s only done if you’ve lost most or all of your kidney function, either temporarily or permanently.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, dialysis should be begun only once your kidneys have lost 85 to 90% of their function. You won’t require dialysis unless your kidney fails because you usually have an almost normal renal function when you have one kidney.

What Are Kidney Disease’s Warning Signs?

Both kidneys are generally affected by kidney disease. Wastes and extra fluid may build up in the body if the kidneys’ capacity to filter the blood is severely harmed by illness. There are six warning indicators of kidney illness, even though many varieties of kidney disease do not present symptoms until late in the disease’s course:

  • Blood pressure is too high.
  • Urine with blood and protein.
  • A blood test for creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is above the normal range.
  • A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of less than 60 is considered abnormal. 
  • The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a measurement of kidney function.
  • Urinating is more often, especially at night; urination is difficult or unpleasant.
  • Swelling and puffiness around the eyes

Is it Possible to Cure Kidney Disease?

Yes, many renal problems can be effectively addressed. Controlling disorders like diabetes and high blood pressure can help prevent or slow the progression of renal disease. In most cases, kidney stones and urinary tract infections may be properly treated. 

Unfortunately, the actual origins of several kidney illnesses are unclear, and there are no particular therapies available. Chronic renal disease can sometimes develop into kidney failure, necessitating dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Can an affected kidney also affect another kidney?

No, usually, an affected kidney does not affect another kidney, this is why it can be transplanted, and the person can live with one kidney. Sometimes, a person is born with only a kidney, and this condition is known as solitary kidney. 

Solitary Kidney: 

A solitary kidney is a condition in which a person only has one kidney rather than two. Renal agenesis is when a person is born with only one kidney, renal dysplasia is when two kidneys are present, but only one is functioning, and kidney cancer is when one kidney is lost. 

A single kidney is found in people who give one of their kidneys. The majority of persons with one kidney live regular, healthy lives. Complications occur in certain persons. Reduced kidney function and elevated blood pressure are two examples. It is not the same as having a single functioning kidney, in which you have two kidneys, but only one is working.

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